When it comes to consumer products, safety is a paramount concern for regulators. Even if consumers are more interested in the style and comfort of garments, bedding, and other items manufactured with textiles, it is only because they assume that safety standards have been met and they don’t have to worry about the relative safety of a piece of clothing or a mattress.
Along these lines, there are strict standards related to flammability. Since many textiles could be considered highly flammable items, government regulations were created to minimize flammability through set standards for manufacturing of materials. This, of course, is designed to protect the consumer public.
While the average person probably isn’t terribly concerned about, say, clothing catching on fire in the course of daily life, most want to know that in the event of a house fire, their mattresses aren’t going to turn into fiery infernos. This is where mattress flammability standards come into play, including 16 CFR 1633. What are these standards and how do they protect consumers? Here’s what you should know.
Mattress Flammability Standards
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for developing voluntary safety standards for industries, issuing and enforcing mandatory standards, and banning any consumer products that are considered unsafe for the consumer public because they don’t meet set standards. In 1953, the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) was passed to establish flammability standards for clothing.
The scope of this law was expanded in 1967 to include interior furnishings and more. Today, the FFA regulates standards for everything from clothing textiles and children’s sleepwear, to carpets and rugs, to mattresses and mattress pads, and more. Initially, enforcement of the FFA was delegated to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but when the CPSC was established in 1972, the consumer protection organization inherited the responsibility for administering the FFA. Since then, the CPSC has enjoyed the authority to issue, change, and enforce mandatory standards for the flammability of clothing and other textiles covered by the FFA.
What is 16 CFR 1633?
16 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1633, under Title 16, Chapter II, Subchapter D, Part 1633 of the United States Code, is designed to regulate the manufacturing of mattresses, specifically in relation to flammability standards for mattresses. It is meant to establish open flame flammability requirements for mattresses or mattress sets before they can be introduced for sale. It specifies test methods to be used to determine if mattresses are in keeping with established safety requirements, as well as setting specific criteria for passing (or failing) testing and rules for compliance.
Test Method, Criteria, and Compliance
In order to measure the fire test response characteristics of a given mattress or mattress set, 16 CRF 1633 establishes a repeatable method for testing. The ignition source for testing is a pair of propane burners that “impose differing fluxes for differing times on the top and sides of the specimen” (the specimen being the mattress, or a mattress set, including foundation, if they are labeled for sale as a single unit). Ignition must be performed under well-ventilated, controlled environmental conditions.
This testing method is designed to allow for measurement of the rate of heat released from the mattress during and after ignition, as well as the energy generated by the fire. These measurements will determine whether or not a mattress meets criteria for consumer safety. During the test, which lasts for 30 minutes, the heat generated cannot exceed 200 kilowatts at any time. Further, the energy generated from the fire cannot exceed 15 megajoules in the first 10 minutes of the test.
It almost goes without saying, but if the fire accelerates to such a level that test operators have to extinguish it to preserve the safety of the test facility, it is noted as an automatic failure to meet requirements for safety of the product. As for compliance, all mattresses manufactured, imported, or renovated on or after the date on which the standard became a law are required to comply with the mattress flammability standards set forth in 16 CFR 1633.
Learn More about Mattress Flammability Standards
If you’re interested in purchasing ESS Universal mattresses and you want to learn more about the mattress flammability standards they meet, there are several good resources to consider, including the Laboratory Test Manual for 16 CFR Part 1633, released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission; the CPSC Mattress Flammability Information page with links to related information; the American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM, Fire Standards and Flammability Standards; and the language of 16 CFR 1633 provided by Cornell Law School.
ESS Universal manufactures and supplies high-quality, cost-effective commercial grade furniture products. View our entire line of commercial furniture products including our popular waterproof foam mattress for institutional use, single metal bed frames, single over single bunk beds, single over double bunk beds, and triple bunk beds.