Is There a Time Bomb In My Sofa?


(Is there a deadly time bomb in your couch?)

An unsupervised child defeats a child proof lighter and ignites the family couch. His parents are asleep. The frightened child runs to his room to hide. Forty seconds elapse before the smoke alarm sounds. His parents, startled by the alarm, take thirty seconds to figure out what is happening to them. They have no fire escape plan. The living room couch is burning fiercely, producing intense heat and dark, toxic smoke. Screams are heard from next door. The father fights the smoke down the hallway to the living room, now completely filled with smoke, obscuring all but the flames. He retreats to rescue his family from the inferno, which is still less than three minutes old. The fire quickly approaches flashover, the point in the fire in which all combustible items ignite. The neighbors cannot get in to help. The screams fade into the roar of the flames leaping from the window.

Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Children under five start one-third of all home fires. NFIRS. 1996. Children playing with fire caused 36% of all home fire deaths among children 5 and under. NFPA. Upholstered furniture and mattresses are the items first ignited in 39% of fatal home fires. NFIRS, NFPA survey 1983-1987. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, upholstered furniture is involved in more residential fire deaths than any other product under the CPSC jurisdiction. (1994 - Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - CPSC)

Robert P. "Robin" Foster has brought a number of lawsuits against the makers of upholstered furniture, as well as component material suppliers and retailers in the chain of distribution. You may wish to view cases pending and those which have resolved with upholstered furniture defendants. You may also wish to view our video fire gallery to watch items of upholstered furniture burn in full-scale fire tests we have run on furniture similar to that which is probably in your home. Also, you can view news articles about real furniture and mattress fires to see how widespread the problem is.

Do furniture manufacturers who view these statistics and their exemplars burn want to change the way they make the product to improve fire safety? Click here then click on Aldridge Video to see the manufacturer of the Motts sofa comment on what he saw in the full scale fire test of his company's sofa to find out.