Safe upholstered furniture - Respecting TB-133

November 23, 2010

All upholstered furniture sold in California must comply with the California Technical Bulletin 117 as a minimum standard. The California Technical Bulletin 133 is a more stringent fire test for Seating Furniture in Public Buildings that was developed by the State Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation.
Today, many states have adopted these California Technical Bulletins as part of their fire retardant laws.

TB 133
In 1972, a California law was enacted to certify that all upholstered furniture sold in this state be fire retardant. The task of developing the required fire standards was assigned to the Bureau of Home Furnishings. The plan: develop standards for the fire safety of furniture for use in residential occupancy. The result: Technical Bulletins 116 and 117 were created. These TBs became law in 1975, and are, still to this day, the minimum standards for any type of occupancy in California. In order to address the specific fire issues for public buildings, Technical Bulletin 133 was developed. Initially published in 1984, TB 133 was primarily used by local fire authorities.

What type of residencies are obliged to respect TB 133?
The California Technical Bulletin 133 is a standard that has been adopted by many states for public assembly areas and public buildings. The list of public areas differ within each state, but in California, this TB is applicable to hospitals, healthcare facilities, licensed child care facilities, stadiums, prisons and jails, auditoriums, board and care homes, convalescent homes and public assembly areas in hotels and motels. A public assembly area in a hotel or a motel is any area that holds ten or more pieces of seating furniture.

How is a piece of furniture tested?
In order to test furniture, the actual piece of furniture or a makeshift piece, which encompasses all the characteristics and the furniture parts of the finished piece is positioned in a special room and is set on fire. TB 133 does not test furniture components; it is designed to test a complete seating furniture (for example, an upholstered dining chair reacts when exposed to a large open flame in a test room).

What is measured during and after the fire test?
Heat generation, smoke, temperature, carbon monoxide, as well as the furniture’s weight loss are measured. The results are then matched up against the bureau’s criteria that define tolerable fire performance for each of the measurements.

Facts about TB 133:

  • TB 133 is not mandatory in any public facility that is equipped with a full sprinkler system that is in accordance with NFPA 13-1987 or UBC Standard No.38-I, 1988.
  • In the state of California, even in facilities with full sprinkler systems, seating furniture must comply with California TB 117, the minimum standard in this state.

Fire control procedures such as fire walls, precise escape routes, emergency lighting and automatic alarms all play critical roles in the plan to avoid or reduce loss of life and property. Since 1963, Newport Furniture Parts have been manufacturing and designing wood components for companies in the furniture industry. As a wood furniture chair parts supplier at the leading edge of today’s technology (using a CNC wood router & a CNC fabric cutter), Newport Furniture Parts is a one-stop design and production facility. From furniture parts to compete upholstering, Newport Furniture, a USA furniture manufacturer, can help you meet the requirements of the Technical Bulletin 133.

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