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Test reveals new furniture burns hotter and produces more smoke than older furniture

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 04, 2018

DENVER, Colorado — Firefighters say chemicals used to manufacturer furniture in today’s age burns hotter and produces enormous amounts of smoke, meaning you have less time to get out of your house, compared to furniture manufactured decades ago.

"In my 30-year firefighting experience, I have seen a tremendous increase in temperature on the fires we have fought and in the smoke that's generated," said Denver Fire Department Captain Greg Pixley.

The reason? Old furniture produced in the 1980s and earlier was made from wood and cotton. New furniture is made from plastics and man-made materials, which burn much more quickly.

Underwriter's Laboratory set up two scientific fire tests burning new materials and old materials in separate, but nearly identical conditions.

After just two minutes, smoke filled the room where new material was burning. The fire in the room with old materials just smoldered.

After five minutes, the room with new materials was full of smoke and visibility was nearly non-existent.

It took 10 minutes for the room with new-material furniture to burst into flames -- something called flashing.

The room with old materials took 32-and-a-half minutes to flash.

"The fire is going to be very fast moving and it's going to be hot. And the smoke produced is going to be exponential," said Captain Chris Medina of the Denver Fire Department.

That means simply getting on the floor and expecting to have lower heat and more visibility to get out may not be the case.

Fire officials suggest people practice getting out of  their homes with their eyes closed. Try it with families as well.