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May 04, 2020

What is Crib 5?

LOFT_Stock Image_Flame_Crib 5

Crib 5 — also known as Ignition Source 5 — refers to material or furniture that’s been tested to pass UK Fire Regulations.

The test is designed to:

  • Determine the possible risk of ignition

  • Ensure that a material or furnishing won’t easily catch fire

  • To save lives

Furniture that passes isn't completely fireproof, but flames are more likely to die out quickly and are less likely to spread if an item catches fire. Compliant furniture can result in countless lives saved, especially in densely populated residential buildings such as BTR and PBSA developments.

Government stats show that 82% of fire-related deaths in 2020 took place in people's homes, a higher percentage than any single year in a decade. With numbers that high, it’s no wonder a great deal of effort goes into producing fire resistant furniture to stop flames from spreading and to reduce the death count across the UK.

We take a closer look at the steps involved when issuing furniture with a Crib 5 fire regulation certificate and explain the consequences of using furniture that doesn’t meet regulation standards.

What is a Crib 5 Certificate?

A Crib 5 certificate is the official document that proves furniture or materials have passed the rigorous Crib 5 test. Any item that passes is issued with the code: BS 5852:2006. It’s always best to ask your supplier for proof before purchase if you have any doubts, as the consequences of installing unsafe furniture can be dire for both you and your residents.

For furniture to meet UK Fire Regulations and be classed as Crib 5 compliant, it has to pass three tests designed to specifically prevent outbreak of fire in everyday life:

Test One: The Smouldering Cigarette Test

Fires caused by cigarettes are a huge concern in the UK. According to the London Fire Brigade, smoking is the most common cause of fire fatalities, and they urge people to never smoke in bed and to avoid smoking in armchairs and sofas.

However, not everyone listens to their advice, which is why furniture needs to pass the smouldering cigarette test (test code number BS EN 5971).

To pass, a lit cigarette is placed along the crevice of a test rig constructed with furniture materials and is left to burn for its entire length. If the rig doesn’t catch aflame or if no smouldering is observed, the material passes and the second test can be carried out.

Test Two: The Match Test

The match test (code number BS EN 5972) works in a similar vein to the smouldering cigarette test. A lit match is held alongside a crevice of the testing rig for 20 seconds before it’s removed. If no flames arise and if there is no progressive smouldering, the test is recorded as “No Ignition,” and the material passes.

Once a material has passed tests one and two, they can then be subjected to Crib 5 procedures. If materials don’t pass these tests, they do not move on.

Test Three: Crib 5

This test is used in relation to upholstery and furniture coverings, and is conducted by building a small crib-like structure from wooden planks that have been glued together. These structures have to be five tiers high to be used in the test — hence the name, Crib 5. Another standard, referred to as Crib 7, is used to test materials that will go into prison cells and high risk environments.

Lint and the fabric are attached to the bottom of the Crib 5 structure and propanediol (a non-flammable liquid) is added to increase absorption. The testing unit is then ignited with a match.

To decide whether the test has been passed, the fabric and the Crib are observed to see whether there is flaming or smouldering on the outer cover and the interior material. Assuming it does not ignite or smoulder, and the flames extinguish themselves within 10 minutes, the material will pass the test.

It’s important to remember that different fabrics burn at different rates, and their natural fire resistance will vary as a result. Many materials can be treated to stop flames from spreading, but they will still burn, as only the back of the material is treated. When the flames burn through the surface of the fabric, the treated area will act as a firewall to put the fire out.

Can All Materials Be Made Crib 5 Compliant?

Not all materials can be sprayed with treatment. It can cause the fabric to change colour or deform. This means furniture being made from an unsuitable fabric may require the use of a felt interliner instead, providing the material has still passed the smouldering cigarette and match tests. Alternatively, another fire resistant chemical can be sprayed on top to make sure it’s safe to use in a hospitality setting.

Acrylic and polyester upholstery is difficult to treat with normal solutions, as the less natural fibres a material has, the less fireproof it usually is. 

There’s no way of determining beforehand whether a treated fabric will pass the Crib 5 test, even if similar materials have been approved for use. Materials undertake a rigorous  process of testing under different conditions to ensure before passing Crib 5 fire regulations.

What are the Consequences of Using Non-Compliant Furniture?

All hospitality businesses have to adhere to UK Fire Regulations, so it’s important that you check your furniture if you manage:

  • Rental properties

  • University accommodation

  • Hotels

  • Bed & Breakfasts

  • Holiday parks

  • Hostels

  • Health care centres

It’s an offence to use materials that haven’t passed safety regulations. If your furniture doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you could be faced with a £5,000 fine for each item that doesn’t comply, plus a six-month prison sentence. Additionally, your insurance company will nullify your policy in the event of a fire, meaning you could stand to lose a huge amount financially.

In a worst case scenario, you could face a criminal charge if anyone dies in your property as a result of negligence.

What’s the Best Way to Ensure You’re Crib 5 Compliant?

At LOFT, we pride ourselves on supplying landlords and student accommodation providers with the highest quality furniture in terms of comfort, style, practicality, and most importantly, safety. We’re always happy to prove our product credentials, so you can be sure that choosing us to provide furnishings for your rental property will keep things safe and compliant.

LOFT is often relied upon to safely furnish BTR, PBSA & rental properties. As a result we have many certifications such as Safecontractor, CHAS, Constructiononline, and ISO 9001, 14001 & 45001 to ensure that we are best-suited and fully qualified to ensure any property projects you have underway meet UK regulations. 

LOFT will gladly assist in the detailed specification development for any project through design consultation and our specialist in-house procurement team. We will source products to meet compliance, performance and style needs.