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  • the estimated number of accidental fires related to the sofa with or without flame retardants, and the corresponding pattern of extent and gravity of these fires. These figures were estimated from real fire statistics data.

  • the emissions of different pollutants for different accidental fire scenarios (sofa only burning, fire spreading to a whole room, to a whole house). These were calculated on the basis of results from full-scale sofa and furnished room fire tests.

The Fire-LCA thus aims to establish a complete comparative balance of environmental impacts and pollutant emissions for manufactured goods with or without flame retardants. In the case of upholstered furniture this effectively enables the comparison of environmental implications of fire

s a f e t y r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r d o m e s t i c u p h o l s t e r e d f u r n i t u r e , a s i n t r o d u c e d i n t h e U K i n 1 9 8 8 1 . T h e legislation requires that domestic upholstered furniture should be resistant to ignition by a small flame (cigarette lighter, candle, match) and this is almost universally achieved by the inclusion of different flame retardant systems, such as those assessed in this Fire LCA. Such legislation is

c u r r e n t l y b e i n g c o n s i d e r e d e l s e w h e r e i n E u r o p e a n d i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s 2 .

The Fire-LCA study summarised here aims to provide decision makers with information concerning the environmental implications of such legislation, to complement existing information concerning lives, injuries and economic fire loss savings, which can be estimated from fire statistics.

Previous Fire-LCA Studies Preparatory methodological study

“The incorporation of fire considerations in the Life-Cycle assessment of polymeric composite materials” SP Report 1998:25 (www.sp.se/fire)

The principle of taking accidental fires into account in Life Cycle Analysis was developed in a series of preparatory studies by SP Sweden 1998-1990. This work enabled the development of the Fire-LCA model, taking into account the consequences of accidental fires in terms of pollutant emissions, replacement of damaged and destroyed objects and materials, environmental impacts of fire service intervention.

Fire-LCA study of TV sets

“Fire-LCA Model: TV case study” SP Report 2000:13 (www.sp.se/fire)

Modern TV sets represent a significant fire load (combustible material in case of a fire) because of the use of plastics/polymers in the outer case as well as in printed circuit boards and internal parts. TV sets can be the initial cause of fires, through faults in high-voltage internal circuits, dust accumulation (leading to arcing), or contact with external heat sources (eg. candles placed on top of the TV). Analysis of fire statistics from Sweden, The Netherlands, the UK and Germany in this study led to an estimate of 319 fires originating in TV sets, per million TVs per year, of which 218 did not breach the TV set outer casing, 107 were limited to the room of origin, and 4 were estimated to cause full house fires.

These figures, for Europe, where TV sets are not presently required to be fire resistant (HB materials classification, IEC 60065 equipment standard), were compared to the US, where TV sets require the use of self-extinguishing material (V0 material classification, UL 1410 equipment standard). For comparison, TV fire frequency for the USA was estimated at 171 fires/million TVs/year (160 not breaching the TV set casing, 5 confined to the TV).

Fire tests were carried out on two contemporary 27-inch TV models (one sold in Sweden, one from the USA), plus burn tests of full-scale furnished rooms containing each type of TV. The latter enabled measurement of emissions used for calculations for fires spreading to a whole room or

1 UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988, Statutory Instrument 1988/No. 1324 http://www.dti.gov.uk/ccp/topics1/guide/furnitureguide.pdf 2 Legislation exists in California since 1975, requiring resistance to small open flame ignition. It has recently been upgraded in California and is under consideration for introduction at both federal and state levels.

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