Since March 1992 all seating used in public occupancies in California had to meet California Technical Bulletin 133 standards for combustion performance.
Since then CAL 133 or TB 133, (as it's commonly referred to) has been adopted in several states and cities like New York and Boston.
Below is a brief, noteworthy summary of CAL 133
What is CAL 133?
CAL 133 is a composite test to determine the combustion performance of a complete furniture construction “system”.
This is a more accurate evaluation of furniture fire than component tests which only evaluate foam, fabric, or other materials on an individual basis (a test referred to as TB 117).
The CAL 133 Test
The CAL 133 test measures a variety of factors including:
rate of heat generation
carbon monoxide generation
weight loss caused by combustion
Compliance with CAL 133
There are two basic approaches to complying with CAL 133.
1. Assemble a group of normal furniture components: Fabrics, Fiber, Foam, etc that work well as a composite to pass the test.
2. ..Or add a fire blocker layer between the cover fabric and cushioning material. This is often done with a fire resistant chemical
3. After passing the test, a 2x3 label declaring compliance with CAL 133 is to be affixed to the furniture piece.
NFPA Considers its own criteria
The NFPA is currently considering adopting it’s own testing method similar to CAL 133 that could make it enforceable by any town or city that recognizes the NFPA regulations.
In response to NFPA's proposed furniture testing standards, comments from furniture designers, suppliers and manufacturers are being heard.
Bernhardt Furniture Company:
We do not see any benefits in having an open flame standard that can only be achieved with added chemicals of concern. The amount of these chemicals added to be able to with stand open flames have already been linked proven to be more dangerous to human life than the flames themselves.
Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association:
We believe the risks associated with the use of these chemicals is greater than the hazard associated with the fire risk from furniture without fire retardants. An open-flame standard would cause needless expense in the design and manufacturing of our products given the nearly non-existent incidence of fire in the workplace today. Unfortunately, such a standard would increase the amount of flame retardant chemicals in our furniture.