Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Our Mission: Safer Stronger Communities - Safe Effective Firefighters.

How have the regulations worked so far?

Research shows that the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 have reduced deaths and injuries in fires. The box below summarises the research findings so far.

Research findings:

  • In 1988 furniture was only involved in 7.5% of all fires but caused 35% of all fire deaths
  • In 1988 there were 247 deaths from fires started in upholstered furniture. By 1998 this figure had fallen to 95
  • At least 700 lives have been saved by the Regulations so far
  • There have been nearly 6,000 fewer serious injuries

The Research

The DTI commissioned independent research from the University of Surrey to find out how well the Regulations had worked. The findings were extremely positive and showed that for fires starting in upholstered furniture in the home there were:

  • 65 fewer deaths in 1992 than in 1988;
  • 138 fewer deaths in 1997 than in 1988.

By 1997 the Furniture Regulations had saved at least 710 lives.

How were lives saved?

In many cases lives were saved because compliant furniture did not catch fire. In addition where there was a fierce fire caused by something else in a house, compliant furniture did not catch fire as quickly giving people extra time to escape. This is particularly true where smoke alarms detected the fire. These additional benefits mean that the actual number of lives saved could be as high as 1,860.

The Regulations also resulted in a decrease in the number of injuries caused by fires. The number of recorded injuries from fires started in upholstered furniture has decreased since 1988:

  • 526 less injuries in 1992 than in 1988
  • 1,126 less injuries in 1997 than in 1988

As a result of the Regulations, at least 5,774 less people were injured in fires.

The benefits of getting rid of old furniture

It is no longer possible to buy new furniture in the UK that does not comply with the Furniture Regulations. Unfortunately, some households still have furniture from before the introduction of the Regulations. Research suggests that people tend to keep their furniture for a long time and give old furniture to family or friends. Encouraging people to dispose of non-compliant furniture safely will have a significant impact on fire safety. This is why we have decided to take action to make people aware of the risks associated with non-compliant furniture.

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