In the Hot Seat: Siren talks Fire Regulations

Alan Spencer, Managing Director at Siren Furniture, shares his view on the proposed regulations for fire safety standards.

Siren Furniture, an FSC® Certified designer and sourcing manufacturer of made-to-order upholstered furniture, is known for its commitment to product innovation, sustainable practices and high-quality production.

From a Siren perspective, the company recognises the need for change to allow for innovation, sustainability, and circularity, within the supply chain. We would hope that, following the consultation period and feedback form the industry, that the final regulations will empower such innovation; improving the health and wellbeing of consumers and the environment, which are key focuses for the business.  

Siren actively acknowledging potential challenges to industry-wide manufacturing processes, with fire safety a core pillar within these. “Ultimately, what remains paramount to us is the manufacturing of furniture that ensures minimal fire risk, confidence in customer safety and wellbeing, and best practice in sustainability innovation amongst an increasingly environmentally and ethically conscious industry and consumers,” Alan said.

For Siren, specifically, the company advocates changing the existing regulations with a primary focus centred on the possibility to use alternatives to flame-retardant chemicals on furniture. “We recognise the concerns raised by Scientists and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee around the harmful chemicals routinely used as standard to ensure compliance to the existing Fire Safety Regulations,” Alan continued. “We are highly supportive on moving away from these contentious chemical treatments that pose detrimental impacts to individual and health and wellbeing.

“We also welcome increased flexibility to empower and allow innovation within the supply chain, and are engaged in industry-wide consultations on the final shape of the new Fire Safety Regulations; lending our voice to the consultation both individually and in partnership with several large retailers.”

Siren has extensive experience of existing Fire Safety Regulation testing requirements and, as members of both SATRA and BLC, the business remains confident in its ability to meet the new requirements, once the test methods are finalised.

“Though it is still early days until we have sight of the finalised testing requirements, our relationships and expertise within the industry put us in a great position to build on our relationships with suppliers of upholstery materials,” Alan said. “We have been proactive in looking to develop innovative solutions to maintain utmost fire safety within the spirit of the new regulations, and we’re currently building experience with non-domestic testing, as we expect the new requirements to look similar to this.

Alba Moss

“We are already looking at alternative upholstery fillings and exploring innovative new materials, all of which we expect to be increasingly relevant for the new regulations when they are finalised. We also hope that our research around long-term backcoat efficacy can help to contribute to the discussions around the future of Fire Safety Regulations in the UK.

“Though we continue to be stringent in adhering to the current regulations as required, the regulations, established in 1988, could be deemed as outdated; especially in view of both national and international evidence that supports moving away from the statutory fire safety testing processes for various reasons.”

The Fire Safety Regulations, as they stand, allow for limited compliance options outside of the requirement for the majority of cover fabrics to have a chemical back coat, and various fillings, such as CMHR Foams, which require chemical modification.

Notably, there have been improvements in chemical technology; the restriction of substances, such as Deca-BDE, and increasing availability of, for example, non-halogenated treatments. “Whilst we welcome these developments they are not enough,” adds Alan. “Flame-retardant chemicals continue to be under scrutiny for their impacts upon the health and wellbeing of consumers and the environment. 

“So, whatever the outcome, our frequent discussions with experts on fire regulation testing and compliance ensures we’re confident that we can hit the ground running and meet whatever regulations. With our ultimate purpose and view to support the environment and consumer health and wellbeing.”

www.sirenfurniture.com

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