Following the ‘Furniture Inferno’ episode of the BBC’s consumer affair programme, Fake Britain, which aired two nights ago, furniture experts at FIRA, the country's leading furniture testing laboratory, which featured on the programme, explain how they can provide support to the industry.

“The Fake Britain investigation found a number of non-compliant products on sale in the UK, which may result in a number of product recalls. This highlights the need for increased level of testing to reduce risk and protect retail and product brands,” says Phil Reynolds, COO for FIRA International, which carried out flammability testing to UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (as amended) for domestic use on five mattresses as part of the BBC investigation.

FIRA was approached by Fake Britain with a request to carry out testing on mattresses that the show had purchased and to provide a flammability expert to give a commentary on camera. These were ‘blind tests’, with the origin of the mattress not known at the time of testing. Filming took place at the end of November and late December last year.

“The programme also demonstrated the importance of using an accredited, independent laboratory to carry out testing. We also recommend that manufacturers, importers and retailers implement ‘due diligence’ processes to check the compliance of products, such as random testing of different batches.

“The UK flammability regulations are extremely complex, but support through our guides to the Regulations for domestic and contract furniture and a guide on best practice, specifically aimed at retailers, which are all free to download from our website. FIRA also runs courses on the Regulations and I would urge anyone who is new to the subject, deals with product acquisition as part of their role or is overseeing the process, to attend a course. We provide a breakdown of the Regulations and give an understanding of how they relate to products.”

The FIRA testing laboratory provides a UKAS-accredited service for all types of furniture and related products for the domestic and contract markets. This includes flammability and fibre performance tests on fabrics and foams, performance tests on adhesives and boards, and structural testing on finished products. In addition to FIRA’s UK-based centre, support is also available to manufacturers in the Far East, looking to export their products to the UK through FIRA-CMA in Hong Kong, a HOKLAS-accredited test facility offering a full range of structural and flammability testing in the Asian region.

FIRA’s technical consultants can provide a full range of support to manufacturers, importers and retailers. FIRA’s training course covers the requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations and General Product Safety Regulations with regards to their impact on furniture, as well as developing due diligence systems to ensure compliance with the regulations. The next course takes place on Tuesday 28th January.