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Fire Safety Requirements for Upholstered Furniture and Furnishings

Fire Safety Requirements for Upholstered Furniture and Furnishings Revised


Effective Date: May 19, 2010

Policy Statement

This policy outlines the University's guidelines for endeavoring to follow applicable fire codes when furnishing spaces.

Reasons for the Policy

Changes in the New York City Fire Code (promulgated July 1, 2008) specify exemptions to requirements for the use of fire rated upholstered furniture and fabrics in rooms or spaces protected by approved automatic sprinkler systems. This policy clarifies the fire rating requirements for newly introduced upholstered furniture and furnishings.

In addition, the University complies with California Technical Bulletin 133 (CAL 133) for all upholstered furniture in dormitory and hospital occupancies and follows the mattress testing standards of the New York City Fire Code.

Responsible University Office & Officer

The Office for Fire Safety is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of this policy as it relates to fire and life safety. The Departments of Public Safety and CUMC Environmental Health and Safety are the Responsible Offices for Fire and Life Safety.

Revision History

This policy revises the Fire Safety Requirements for Upholstered Furniture and Furnishings policy issued December 1, 2009.

Who Is Governed By This Policy

All faculty, staff and affiliates of the University who are responsible for the purchase of furniture or furnishings.

Who Should Know This Policy

All faculty, staff, affiliates and students of Columbia University are governed by this policy.


Exclusions & Special Situations


Policy Text

Furniture purchased or re-used in offices may only be purchased or reconditioned through University Purchasing approved vendors who provide products meeting University standards. The University Policy on Furniture requires that all furniture must be purchased through an approved Purchase Order processed through the Purchasing Office or other Purchasing approved mechanisms that can be viewed on the Purchasing website and preferably through a University-wide Preferred Agreement (UwPA) supplier (see Procurement Mechanisms).

This policy details the fire rating requirements for newly introduced upholstered furniture and furnishings in rooms or spaces by type of approved fire protection system. The CU Facilities Associate Director for Fire Safety and the CUMC Fire Safety officer are responsible for Fire Safety of all University space. Questions on the types of fire protection system installed in any location should be directed to the appropriate Fire Safety office. The levels of fire rating requirements by protection system and location of use are outlined below:

Offices, Public Areas and Places of Public Assembly, including Classrooms.This policy is based on New York City's July 1, 2008 modifications to the International Building Code and the International Fire Code. Under these codes, college and university facilities are classified as Class B business establishments.

The University self-subscribes to the use of California Bulletin 117 (CAL 117) for all newly introduced upholstered furniture and fabrics in rooms or spaces protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system. However, all rooms or spaces that are not protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system must meet CAL 133 for all newly introduced upholstered furniture. In addition, laboratories in these buildings shall comply with the requirements of the New York City Fire Code as detailed below.

Laboratories Curtains and Laser CurtainsBlack-Out Curtains and Laser Curtains installed in a laboratory unit shall comply with the flame resistant requirements of Chapter 8 of the NYC Fire Code 2008. These curtains must be inherently flame resistant. In order to accomplish this:1. Purchase curtains from a manufacture that provides an affidavit stating that the curtains are capable of passing Test 1 or 2, as described in NFPA 701, or such materials shall be non-combustible.2. Have a New York City Certificate of Fitness holder verify that the curtains are in compliance by providing a certificate of compliance and made available to the department representatives in accordance with the rules.

Dormitory and Hospital OccupanciesThis policy requires that upholstered furniture, curtains, drapes and carpets furnished by the University for use within Hospitals and Dormitories must meet the University's compliance with California Technical Bulletin 133 (CAL 133).

Mattresses used in these locations must meet the testing standards set in NFPA 267 that is required by the New York City Fire Code.

For further information on fire safety requirements for upholstered furniture or furnishings, contact the appropriate Fire Safety Officer.


Cross References to Related Policies

This policy modifies Upholstered Furniture (9.07) concerning the requirement that all upholstered furniture must meet the requirements of the CAL 133 fire rating bulletin.

It relates to the Purchasing policy on Furniture.


A List of Locations protected by Automatic Sprinkler Systems is available through the Office of Fire Safety.

Other Related Documents

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

F.D.N.Y Fire Code 2008Chapter 27 - Sec 2706.11Chapter 8 - Sec 805.1 & 805.1.3

CAL 133 information CAL 117 Bulletin

Purchasing website -


DECORATIONS - Except as otherwise specifically provided for in the NY Fire Code, in Group A, E, I, M occupancies, common areas in Group R-1, R-2 and B occupancies, and any building or structure used as a place for public gathering, curtains, draperies, hangings and decorations shall be flame resistant in accordance with NY Fire Code Section 805.1.3 and NFPA 701. In Groups I-1 and I-2 occupancies, decorations shall be flame resistant unless the decorations are so limited in number or size that the hazard of fire or fire spread is not present. This section of the NY Fire Code does not apply to decorations being displayed solely for sale in any building or as a work of art in any museum or art gallery.

FIRE-RESISTANCE RATING - The time in hours or fractions thereof that materials or their assemblies will withstand fire exposure as determined by a fire test made in conformity with a specified standard.

FLAME-RESISTANT MATERIAL - Material that meets the criteria for flame-resistance as set forth in NFPA 701, either because it is inherently flame-resistant or because it has been subjected to a flame-retardant treatment.

FURNISHING - Furniture or items other than structural elements, building service equipment or interior finishes that are installed or placed in a building for the human comfort or other use of the occupants.

INTERIOR FINISH - Construction materials that form the exposed interior surfaces of a building and that are part of or affixed to walls, fixed or folding partitions, ceilings, and other construction elements.

NFPA - National Fire Protection Association.

PLACE OF ASSEMBLY**- An enclosed room or space in which seventy-five or more persons gather for religious, recreational, educational, political or social purposes, or for the consumption of food or drink, or for similar group activities or which is designed for use by seventy-five or more persons gathered for any of the above reasons, but excluding such spaces in dwelling units; or an outdoor space in which two hundred or more persons gather for any of the above reasons or which is designed for use by two hundred or more persons gathered for any of the above reasons.**Local Law 23-1990.

PUBLIC AREAS - Area(s) within a building usually open to or used by the general public, such as lobbies, corridors, waiting rooms, reception rooms, rest rooms, etc.