Beds Magazine spoke to Mark Cashin, national chair for the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) Home Safety Committee, about the latest fire statistics and how, as an industry, we can strive for better consumer safety.

Mark cashin

The most recent statistics surrounding fires make for worrying reading. According to the Home Office Fire Statistics team’s Fire Statistics Monitor covering April 2015 to March 2016, there were 303 fire related fatalities in England over that period. To put it into context, this is 39 more than in 2015/16 and the highest figure since 2011/12, following what had been a downward trend.

The more serious, or ‘primary’ fires, according to the report, are those that cause people or property harm, and in 2015/2016, there were around 73,400 of these incidents, an increase of 3% on the previous period and the first such increase in 14 years. In addition, the most common primary fire (at around 43% in 2015/2016) is within a home or dwelling. This number has seen a slight increase of four fires during the period, after steady decreases for nearly 12 years.

We have all seen the news reports of spontaneously combusting mobile devices and overheating batteries, and indeed, estimates from the Electrical Safety First charity put electricity as the cause of 50% of fires within the home, the majority of which begin with a faulty electrical product.

This is something of which Mark Cashin, national chair for the CFOA Home Safety Committee is all too aware. “The biggest concern is the appropriation of units from online auction sites which have the potential to be counterfeit. The expense of the genuine article is a factor. If people can buy what they perceive to be the same item for £20 online, they will. Of course, when devices do catch fire, they get destroyed in the fire, so it’s a difficult area to pursue.”

“the Regulations are designed to reduce the risk of fire”

With more of these devices making their way to the bedroom, be it for use or simply for charging, the risk of bedroom fires is becoming ever more present, and compliant bedroom furniture could make all the difference in terms of the level of devastation caused.

“The Regulations are designed,” said Mark, “to reduce the risk of fire, and independent analysis of their effectiveness conducted by Government in 2009 has previously concluded that they have helped significantly reduce fire deaths and injuries caused by furniture fires. There is a concern that some products out there are still non-compliant with these important fire safety regulations.

“As part of the government’s review into the regulations, CFOA understands that the Government proposes to incentivise the reduction of flame retardant chemicals while maintaining fire safety standards. If current standards are not being uniformly adhered to, CFOA is concerned that any relaxation of flame retardant chemicals without increased regulatory enforcement could reduce fire safety standards and put householders at risk. We would urge the Government to heed this as part of its review of the Regulations.

“We also call upon the Government to provide local Trading Standards with additional resources to conduct more testing and enforcement work to ensure the furniture industry complies.”