why are flame retardants still necessary?According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the number of reported fires in the United States decreased by seven percent from 2008 to 2009. In addition, between 1977 and 2009, civilian fire deaths declined from 7,395 to 3,010 respectively. Flame retardants have played a key role in reducing the incidence of fire. Unfortunately, despite the perceptions of some that fires are no longer a cause for concern, fire dangers continue to exist.
The NFPA reported that in 2009:
1,348,500 fires were reported in the United States
These fires caused 3,010 civilian deaths and 17,050 civilian injuries.
All fires caused $12.5 billion in property damage.
A fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds.
One civilian fire injury was reported every 31 minutes.
One civilian fire death occurred every two hours and 55 minutes.
Flame retardants have proven to work and continue to be an important component in the overall effort to address the dangerous consequences of fire, prevent fire-related injuries and protect lives. The use of flame retardants in upholstered furniture is a clear example of how flame retardants can be effective in protecting lives and preventing injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires originating in upholstered furniture account for more than 20 percent of all fire-related deaths in residential structures. Currently, California is the only state with fire safety regulations for upholstered furniture.
Additional factors that point to the continued need for flame retardants include the lifestyle changes Americans have experienced over the last several decades and ever-growing consumer demands for more electronic products. Through the development and application of technologically advanced materials, manufacturers, especially those in the computer and electronics industries, are responding to consumers with more efficient, smaller, yet more powerful devices. But many of the new materials now used in products in homes and offices are more flammable than their earlier counterparts. With modern homes carrying significantly higher fuel loads than in the past, fire in today’s homes can be more severe than ever. For this reason, numerous bodies including NFPA, the International Code Council and many states and cities require buildings and materials to meet specific fire retardant standards.