If you have bought any furniture in the last few years you might want to establish whether it is fire-safe or illegally lethal, because if it came from retailers SCS, Harveys, Argos, Tesco Direct, Homebase or Amazon it could be the latter.

A BBC TV documentary, Fake Britain, was screened this week and featured sofas or China-manufactured Ventura matresses from the above which had failed a fire-ignition test, making it highly dangerous to buy them and illegal to sell them in the UK. The laws requiring a minimum level of flame-retardantcy were brought in by the government in the 1970’s after the furniture fire at Woolworth’s in Manchester in 1979 which killed ten people, and the government were advised by fire officers that 700 people a year were dying from fire in their homes. Many were victims of the toxic smoke produced when foam in furniture or matresses burns, and which can render a room fire unsurvivable within three or four minutes of the first tiny flame.

Some products that failed were found to be carrying fake British Standard labels. A spokeswoman for the furniture industry said that some producers had “cut corners” on safety in the recession. As a result of the programme some retailers are recalling the dangerous products.

Please use the BBC iPlayer link to view the TV programme: bbc.co.uk/i/b03qfnsf/

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