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Scrapping furniture safety regulations will cost dozens of lives a year, warns fire union

(Adobe Stock)

The Fire Brigades Union has warned that a government plan to deregulate furniture regulations could cost dozens of lives every year.

As shoppers gather for Boxing Day sales on sofas and other furniture, the union is warning that unless the ministers change course, decades of safety regulations could be lost.

Under the current rules – introduced as the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 – manufacturers must submit furniture to independent testing on flammability. The regulations are estimated to have saved between 50 and 70 lives per year.

But now the Westminster government has proposed scrapping these rules in favour of a voluntary regime. Consultation on the plans closed earlier this year and ministers are now considering proposals.

The union warned that the government was using the pretext of dealing with lithium batteries and other hazards to launch a dangerous programme of deregulation.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: 

“As members of the public shop for furniture in this year’s Boxing Day sales, they should be aware the UK government is planning to scrap crucial safety regulations on furniture.

“The Westminster government wants to scrap mandatory flammability tests for furniture, opening the door for manufacturers to sell furniture that may be hazardous.

“Research shows that the current regulations save 50 to 70 lives every single year. The Fire Brigades Union fought for decades to put them in place.

“The arrival of lithium batteries and other hazards points to the need for more regulation, not less. But the UK government is putting the interests of profit and big business over the safety of the rest of us.

“We had hoped that the Grenfell Tower disaster would make ministers wake up to the dangers of profit driven de-regulation. It seems they have learned nothing.

“Ministers must think again.”