Here, John Woolley, managing director at Hypnos Contract Beds, discusses the importance of fire retardancy and what hoteliers need to know.What is fire retardancy?
A fire retardant is a substance that reduces the flammability of materials and delays their combustion. It’s important that products, such as furniture, have certain levels of protection against fire to ensure people’s safety and protect them both in a domestic or a commercial setting such as a hotel. If somebody falls asleep smoking a cigarette in bed for example, having a fire retardant bed and bedding will help to slow the rate at which the fire spreads and keep damage to a minimum.
Why is it needed?
The possibility of a fire breaking out in a hotel is something that every hotel manager needs to prepare for and take steps to mitigate the risk, no matter how small it might be. As any good hotelier will appreciate, the consequences for having furniture that doesn’t meet the required UK fire regulatory standards are huge. Should a fire break, it could spread quickly and put people’s lives in danger, especially at night time when occupancy tends to be at its highest. As such, hoteliers have a responsibility to take all necessary precautions to ensure their guests are safe.
How do the requirements for domestic and commercial furniture differ and are all products fire retardant?
In the UK, the fire safety requirements for domestic upholstered furniture are well established, having been in place since 1989, however fire retardant regulations for beds used in a commercial environment are far more stringent.
As such, there can be serious repercussions if hotels and B&Bs in the hospitality sector purchase its beds and mattresses from domestic furniture retailers, or from abroad where fire retardancy standards can differ to those in the UK. Buying a bed that isn’t compliant with commercial fire retardant standards is not only an offence which can lead to prosecution in the event of a fire, it also puts customers’ lives at risk. Although it’s a retailer’s duty to ensure that furniture is fit for purpose, ultimately the responsibility to ensure all furniture meets at least a medium risk category for the stringent BS5867 fire retardancy requirements lies with the hotelier.
What are the legal requirements for furniture in the hospitality sector?
Hoteliers have a legal requirement to ensure all mattresses, beds and sofa beds they buy meet strict UK and EU fire regulatory standards. In a commercial setting, this includes meeting the Crib 5 BS6807 standard which guarantees that a product has been specifically tested for high resistance to ignition. Every single bed that complies with this rigorous standard will clearly display the fire retardancy source 5 (Crib 5) label.
And more recently, the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) has developed a new ‘fire standard’ specifically for contract beds. The new standard looks to enhance the BS EN1725 test methods currently used for domestic beds, reflecting the fact that beds used in the hospitality market are subject to far more rigorous use. Although many manufacturers may have already been supplying products to this standard, the new accreditation means that along with Crib 5 fire safety compliance, all contract beds meet the highest criteria.
What are the consequences for not meeting standards?
Whilst the economic allure of a cheap bed may seem like a good idea to some, failure to conform to UK fire standards and legislation could place commercial operators at high risk of prosecution and cost them much more in the long run. And ultimately, the increased risk to life is too high of a price to pay.
Is all commercial furniture included in the standards?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) covers the general fire safety of a building, including all sectors from hotels and offices to schools and hospitals, and is aimed at ensuring adequate fire prevention procedures are in place. In terms of furniture, this covers everything. However, there are more specific specifications which apply to seating, mattresses and curtains. Within each of these specifications, there is a split between low, medium, high and very high hazard. While adhering to the standards of these products is essential, it is down to a risk assessment by the person who owns or runs a property to make a judgement on how severe the hazard is.
What questions should hoteliers be asking?
It’s vital hoteliers and hotel managers ask their supplier to provide proof that the upholstery they are purchasing meets these strict, and potentially life-saving, requirements.
If there is any doubt, they should ask for the Certificates of Compliance (COC) as during the manufacturing process, each filling and material must be supplied with one of these to ensure they have undergone fire retardancy tests. Hoteliers who want to check their existing furniture is suitable, should be looking for a fire retardancy source 5 (Crib 5) label.
All Hypnos’ contract beds and sofa beds comply with BS 7177 and BS 7176 Source 5 (Crib 5) fire retardancy standards and are made to the highest quality.
Furthermore Hypnos takes pride in working with Hospitality clients to design a range of supremely comfortable beds helping to create a safe, healthy and hygienic sleeping environment that will have a positive effect on a guest’s well-being and satisfaction.
For more information about Hypnos, or to view the full product range, please visit www.hypnoscontractbeds.com or call +44 (0) 1159 732180.