Flammability of Upholstered Furniture Using the Cone Calorimeter
With the development of modem materials, upholstered furniture posses a high fuel load and life safety threat. Due to the rapid growth rate of the organic material and the toxic combustion products, these fires usually lead to hazardous conditions and uncontrollable fires. The heat release of a burning item is considered as the most important property in fire hazard analysis. The application of the European CBUF programme to New Zealand upholstered furniture is an ongoing initiative of the University of Canterbury. The combustion behaviour of 3 foams combined with 14 fabrics were analysed using the cone calorimeter to provide data to predict full scale furniture fires. The major results that were derived form the Cone Calorimeter results is there is a pronounced fabric effect with regard to flammability and combustion characteristics. Model I from the CBUF programme was applied to New Zealand furniture as to predict potential fire hazards from these small-scale results. It was found that fabrics that posed the greatest fire hazard were PE, PP, olefin and viscose which consistently produced high peak HRR, high total heat released and fast times to peak HRR and times to untenable conditions. The foams that posed the greatest fire hazard when coupled with these fabrics was a standard polyurethane foam and a high density polyurethane foam. The ability of Model I to compensate for foam and fabric chemical compositions was limited which was reflected throughout the results. Its dependence on various experimentally variables limit its ability and power to predict various parameters if unattainable. Model I can be considered a conservative design model with resect to peak HRR, total heat released and time to peak HRR.