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.
- 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
- There have been nearly 6,000 fewer serious injuries
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
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