SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1994

Burning Characteristics of Upholstered Chairs


Upholstered chairs in many different styles, fabrics, and foams were evaluated under the fire test conditions of California Technical Bulletin 133 (Flammability Test Procedure for Seating Furniture for Use in Public Occupancies). Measurements obtained from these experiments included mass loss, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide concentrations, smoke density, temperature, and heat release rate. Analysis of the data have revealed certain unusual burning characteristics of the furniture items, some trends in fire properties, and certain recommendations for future testing. Comparisons of ceiling temperatures to heat release rates, for example, often explain why a particular chair failed the Category A criteria of TB133, while passing Category B. These and other anomalies are discussed in view of the proposed ASTM test method for flammability evaluation of upholstered chairs.

The shape and style of a piece of upholstered furniture, the fabric covering, the fire blocking layer, and the foam may have an impact on the flammability results obtained in the TB133 test. Some of the data from Omega Point Laboratories' large database have been tabulated or plotted in order to illustrate these effects. Office-style chairs, where the back cushion does not adjoin the seat cushion and where the arms are not fully upholstered, often produce very different results than similar chairs where the cushions are joined. Fabric types and fire blocker design have significant effects on the heat release rate values. These results are presented in order to gain insight into the use of these tests for regulatory purposes and into the potential hazard of these furnishings in realistic full-scale fire scenarios.

Author Information

Grand, AF
Omega Point Laboratories, Inc., Elmendorf, TX
Priest, DN
Omega Point Laboratories, Inc., Elmendorf, TX
Stansberry, HW
Omega Point Laboratories, Inc., Elmendorf, TX
Price: $25.00
Contact Sales
Reprints and Permissions
Reprints and copyright permissions can be requested through the
Copyright Clearance Center
Developed by Committee: E05
Pages: 63–82
DOI: 10.1520/STP12949S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5285-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1889-8