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Back to overview June 04, 2021

Flame Retardant fabric for upholstery: UK standards

Our inherently fire retardant fabrics are used throughout the world. The UK market has its own quirks and policies just like any other part of the world, but standards and certifications can seem a little complicated at first glance.

Ready to demystify these standards once and for all? We are too! Let’s get started.

This article is the follow-on from the Defining FR Standards: BS5867 part 2 type A, B and C, as fire retardant upholstery for the UK market deserves its own section.

Testing fire retardant upholstery under British standards

Regulations for this market are deeply influenced by the end use of the fabric, from upholstered stools in a café setting, for example, to any application and building you can think of.

Today we look at FR standards for upholstery used in the UK market. Read our previous article to learn more about fire safety standards for drapery and curtains.


FR-One fabrics standards in the UK

All upholstery fabrics (including ours) used in non-domestic settings in the UK can only pass specific fire safety standards in conjunction with a special backing and flame retardant upholstery foam. First, we’ll state the technical information about our inherently fire retardant fabrics, and then we’ll unpack what all of this means.

FR-One fabrics pass the BS7176 2007 Medium Hazard including:

  1. BS EN 1021-1 & 2 2006 (for upholstery use only and in conjunction with a modified combustion foam CMHR equal or superior to 35kg/m3).
  2. And the BS 5852 : 2006 (source 5) /crib 5 (note that upholstery qualities require additional treatment in the U.K. and must be used in conjunction with a modified combustion foam CMHR equal or superior to 35kg/m3).
  3. Unpacking FR upholstery standards in Britain

    BS 5852: 2006 Part 1 Ignition Source 0 &1, Part 2 Ignition Source 5 (Crib5)

    Testing under this standard involves different ignition sources applied to a constructed test rig to examine the burning behaviour of a test material.

    BS7176: 2007 Medium Hazard, incorporating BS EN 1021-1 & 2 2006 (cigarette and match)

    This standard refers to two other standards both in the UK and Europe. The first is the BS 5852: 2006 (the test that we just looked at). The second depends on the ultimate end-use of the upholstery fabric in question:

    BS European EN 1021 Part 1 and 2-1

    BS European EN 1021 Part 1 and 2-2

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  5. What do we mean by a ‘medium hazard’ environment?

    Typical examples of ‘medium hazard’ end-use environments include casinos, hospitals, hostels, places of public entertainment, public buildings, public halls, public houses and bars, restaurants, services' messes...

    Keeping these upholstery standards in mind, we look at additional requirements made by the UK non-domestic market.

    FR upholstery in the UK: special backing and upholstery foam regulations

    All FR One upholstery fabrics to be used within the UK require additional FR treatment to meet these standards. This is because, in the UK all fire-retardant upholstery fabrics require a special backing to be specified in non-domestic settings.

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  7. In the UK, upholstery fabric can’t pass the fire retardancy standards without application of this backing. This effectively means that the fabric cannot pass this test alone, and that it is always tested in conjunction with the FR upholstery foam.

    This is why the specific fire retardant tests can’t go ahead on upholstery fabric if these steps haven’t been carried out.

    Did you know? FR-One fabrics are some of the only decorative fabrics that meet the most difficult safety standards on the planet: those for sea-faring vessels. Read more about the Marine Equipment Directive, and explore the range of advantages that our certification has for contract outfitting projects worldwide.

    Performance Fabrics for Furniture

    Simplify your specification process with our complete database of the FR standards in force throughout the entire world. From this overview you can review fire safety standards by country and find which FR standards are relevant in your own local area.

    Are you reading this article from the UK? We are delighted that Sekers Fabrics, an internationally known and trusted brand, is our exclusive brand partner in the United Kingdom. Find out more.


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