The 411 on Fire Code Safety Standards
California Technical Bulletin 117 (CA TB 117)
California Technical Bulletin 117 is a mandatory materials standard that tests both open-flame contact and contact from a smoldering cigarette for the components used to make residential upholstered furniture. The most commonly used standard nationwide, manufacturers build furniture in compliance with CA TB 117 by selecting frames, foam fillings, and fabrics that are already approved as CA TB 117-compliant. Compliance with the CA TB 117 indicates that the manufacturer’s end product should burn slowly or not ignite at all.
California Technical Bulletin 133 (CA TB 133)
California Technical Bulletin 133, regarded as the most severe open-flame test in the furniture world, is used to test a finished product such as a completed chair. (It is important to note that CA TB 133 was created to test for “upholstered furniture used in public occupancies,” and was not meant to test the flame-retardant properties of upholstered furniture used in residential occupancies.) The reason the CA TB 133 standard is so highly regarded is that it not only measures the degree of flame spread, but also measures the gasses given off by the burning furniture, which can be equally as dangerous.
The Boston Fire Department Test and Requirements (The Boston Fire Code)
The Boston Fire Department Tests and Requirements (The Boston Fire Code) is also regarded as stringent and very comparable to CA TB 133, although test methodologies differ between the two. The Boston Fire Code was developed solely for public occupancy furniture sold in the city of Boston. However, Boston officials will accept the results of CA TB 133 if the test data is submitted to the Boston Fire Department.
The Protective Benefits of Flame Retardant Stools and Chairs
- Meet important fire safety standards and regulations
- Prevent many fires from starting
- Inhibit the spread of an existing fire
- Delay “flashover"
- Protect your investment
- Protect human life!
Most office seating purchases are based on factors such as comfort, style, price, and, of course, ergonomic fit – each one a very important consideration for your investment. However, another important element worth considering is the fire protective qualities of the fabrics used in the chairs and stools we utilize everyday.
Today, more and more manufacturers are using fire-protective, flame retardant fabrics and fillings in office seating and other furnishings in order to meet important fire safety standards and regulations, such as California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), California TB 133, and Article XI of the Boston Fire Prevention Code.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire-protective fabrics are valuable because they prevent many fires from starting in the first place, and will slow down the spread of an existing fire, thereby improving the chances for a safe escape. In fact, TB 117 requires furniture fabrics and padding to withstand 12 seconds of direct flame contact before the flame spreads. Twelve seconds may not seem like much time, but it can be critical in emergency situations. One recent report by the Materials Flammability Group of the National Institute of Standards and Technology even found that flame retardant products studied provided a 15x greater escape time compared to non-flame retardant treated products and materials.