Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®

Research project

ReFoPlan – Fire-safety requirements for textiles, furniture and mattresses in public facilities

What fire-safety requirements exist for products such as textiles, furniture and mattresses in public facilities? How can the requirements be fulfilled in the most environmentally friendly and health-compatible way possible? These questions regularly lead to uncertainty during the equipping of nurseries, schools, offices and other public facilities. In this research project, we are developing a concise guideline with defined recommendations for purchasers. In addition, we are developing criteria proposals for the awarding of the “Blue Angel” eco-label for flame-retardant interior products.

© Shutterstock
Interior view of a nursery.

When equipping interiors in public buildings and purchasing work clothing, diverse aspects must be taken into account. Purchasers are faced with the question as to how they can reconcile the requirements with regard to environmental protection, health compatibility, fire protection and economic efficiency. Some flame retardants may have a negative impact on the environment and on health. Furthermore, the furnishing of products with flame retardants often results in a higher purchase price. Alternative solutions are sometimes not commonly known.

Moreover, time-consuming research is often necessary in order to determine which fire-protection requirements apply to a specific equipment situation. Whilst there are clear guidelines for building materials and components, the regulations regarding interior fittings are less unambiguous - partly because there are no specific regulations whatsoever for diverse scenarios. Whether and to what extent the flammability of the products, for example, plays a role, depends, amongst other things, on the type of product and the field of application. As an example: Escape routes, such as corridors, are subject to different fire-protection requirements than offices which are easy to evacuate. Furthermore, the geographical site of application is important, as the fire-protection requirements are laid down in the state building regulations and may therefore differ from one another.

With our project, we would like to achieve a situation in which purchasers are able, in the future, to utilize a guideline in order to quickly and easily determine which fire-protection requirements apply to their specific case and which possibilities exist for the fulfillment of these requirements. This will provide purchasers with more security and a greater scope for design.

Furthermore, through our project, we would like to contribute towards ensuring that the “Blue Angel” eco-label can also be awarded to flame-retardant interior products in the future. Purchasers would thereby have the possibility to obtain certified products which fulfill clearly defined requirements for fire protection, health and environmental compatibility. For manufacturers of equipment products and flame retardants, this would have the advantage that they could further develop their products in a targeted manner in order to obtain certification and to utilize the eco-label for their marketing.

Project process

In the first step, we research the fire-protection requirements in public facilities applicable in Germany and summarize them for the typical product groups and areas of application.

 

Product groups

  • Industrial safety textiles
  • Shoes
  • House and home textiles
  • Furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Floor coverings
 

Fields of application

  • Nurseries
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Office and administration buildings
  • Federal Armed Forces
 

In this context, we also examine the differences between the individual federal states and the standards for product testing.

On the basis of the research results, we systematically compile solutions for the fulfillment of the fire-protection requirements for the differing product groups and fields of application in the individual federal states. We furthermore delineate the substantiation which must be provided in each case. As part of this measure, we also identify ways of assessing the different solutions in terms of their impact upon the environment and health. From this, we then derive concrete recommendations for the procurement of environmentally friendly and healthy products as well as criteria proposals for the awarding of the Blue Angel.

We would like to discuss and, where necessary, adapt our findings during workshops with experts and purchasers as well as manufacturers of products and flame retardants. In the final step, we will publish the project results in professional journals and prepare a concise guide for purchasers.

Funding

Funding body: Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency)

Duration: 18.12.2018 to 31.07.2021