Open Flame Resistant Mattresses:
Frequently Asked Questions


[Question] Do you mean the mattress replacements I have been buying are not "flame proof"?

[Answer] There are two types of testing performed on mattresses. One is component testing, where individual layers (fabric, foam, etc.) are tested to small scale fire tests. The other is full scale fire testing, where the entire mattress assembly is tested in accordance with an open flame flammability standard like California Technical Bulletin #129. Most mattresses sold today only meet component tests like CCF4-72 (Cigarette Ignition), California TB 117 (foam standard), and other small scale tests. The only way of being assured of purchasing a mattress that has a "limited rate of heat release" is to buy a certified open flame resistant mattress to tests like CAL 129, and BFD IX-11. Lastly, nothing is "flame proof". Even metal buildings can burn to the ground.

[Question] So why should I specify an open flame resistant mattress?

[Answer] The objectives of the "Life Safety Code" is to prevent spread of a fire from one room to the next by a series of successive flashover events. Flashover is when a burning object has released enough energy to cause everything organic in the room to spontaneously combust and usually results in the deaths and injuries of patients, staff, and others that are in adjoining rooms completely unaware that a fire is occuring nearby, By specifying an open flame resistant mattress you can limit the ability of that mattress to contribute to the fire and thereby reduce the probability of flashover in that room. And since the mattress is the largest fuel source in the, this can significantly reduce your fire risk.

[Question] What are the risks to my patients and the staff?

[Answer] A mattress that only meets standards like CCF4-72 and CAL 117 can release as much as 2,000 kW in less than 4 minutes of catching fire. That is a fire about 8 feet on top of the mattress and can flashover a large hospital room. The risk to patient and staff safety is real. Patients come and go and are unsupervised much of the time. The fire risk can even be higher in facilities that have banned smoking because patients hide "risky" behavior from the nursing staff. However, the risk to staff is highest since they are in the facilities every day of the week. As a comparison, a mattress that meets CAL 129 MUST release no more than 100kW --- less than 5% of the energy of a "flame retardant" mattress.

[Question] What is the Life Safety Code and what does it mean?

[Answer] The Life Safety Code is essentially tha national fire code. The 1997 version of the code requires that mattresses placed in the facilities that are not "fully" sprinklered (every room, every space) have a limited rate of heat release of less than 250 kW. A mattress that meets CAL 129 or BFD IX-11 can meet those requirements. Purchasing an open flame resistant mattress should put you in compliance with any current fire code and the 1997 NFPA Life Safety Code. However, it is important that the local fire marshall review your risk management strategies for the reduction of the fire risk in your facility.



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