All furniture (either purchased or reupholstered), decorations, and scenery used or intended for use in University of Chicago buildings shall maintain a fire resistive rating in accordance with this policy.
Authority and Responsibility
All University Departments shall be responsible for maintaining furniture, decorations, and scenery with a fire resistive rating as described in this policy. These departments include, but are not limited to:
- The University Architect’s Office for new construction and renovation projects;
- Residence Halls and Commons for all dormitories;
- International House for its building; and
- Facilities Services - Residential Properties for all residential properties.
Environmental Health and Safety shall be responsible for:
Reviewing this policy to ensure compliance; and
Reporting any questionable conditions discovered to the responsible department.
New Furniture Purchases
All new furniture purchased for occupancies classified as school or classroom buildings shall have and maintain a fire resistive rating as is set forth by the “Test Standards” section in this policy.
Auditoriums and Stadiums
All indoor and outdoor auditoriums and stadiums containing fixed individual seating for 50 or more persons and are used for entertainment, deliberation, sporting, musical productions, motion pictures, lectures and theater productions, which are not protected throughout by an approved sprinkler system, shall provide and maintain furniture which meets the fire resistive test requirements set forth in California Technical Bulletin 133 (1991).
All auditoriums and stadiums which are protected throughout by an approved sprinkler system, shall provide and maintain furniture which meets the fire resistive test requirements set forth by California Technical Bulletin 116 (1980) and California Technical Bulletin 117 (1980).
All new furniture purchased for occupancies which are not mentioned in the above classifications shall have and maintain a fire resistive rating as is set forth by the “Test Standards” section in this policy.
All seating furniture, other than juvenile furniture and furniture used for and in facilities designed for the care or treatment of humans, which meet any of the following criteria are exempt from compliance:
- Cushions and pads intended solely for outdoor use;
- Any furniture that is smooth surfaced and contains no more than one-half inch of filling material, if furniture does not have horizontal surface meeting vertical surface; and
- Furniture manufactured solely for recreational use or physical fitness purposes, such as weightlifting benches, gymnasium mats or pads, sidehorses and similar articles.
All seating furniture used in a public occupancy may be reupholstered without having to meet the performance standards as described in the “New Furniture” section of this policy, provided that replacement filling material is fire retardant and that all filling material is completely encased in material designed to slow the spread of fire, increase escape time, prevent rapid combustion, insulate internal materials and restrict generated gases, as described in the Illinois State Fire Marshall “Furniture Fire Safety Regulations Part 300”.
Scenery and Decorations
All scenery and decorative materials used as stage materials, paraphernalia, scenery, decoration, drapes, curtains or similar materials used for decorative effect or stage settings shall maintain a fire resistive rating as set forth by the “Test Standards” section of this policy. However, when scenery or decorations will not support combustion or carry a flame when subjected to a temperature of twelve hundred degrees Fahrenheit for a period of not less than ten minutes the scenery or decoration is exempt from the test standard described in this policy.
Candles or Open Flame Devices
All candles or open flame devices used for illumination or decorative purposes are prohibited in any University building.
In all areas of institutional buildings, public assembly units, general sales units, churches, schools or theaters, not more than five percent of the wall area shall be covered by scenery and decorations. No one article of scenery or decoration shall cover more than three percent of said wall area. Before any scenery or decoration is used it shall be treated with a flame retardant solution and continuously maintained in such a condition to pass a flame retardant test as described in the “Test Standard” section of this policy.
In all occupancies, no scenery or decorations shall be hung or applied as to conceal a means of an emergency exit or exit way, nor to reduce the width of an emergency exit or exit way. No scenery or decoration shall be placed on a wall in such a manner as to give the appearance of an emergency exit where one does not exist.
Any carpet or rug shall meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission test standards found in 16 CFR Part 1630 “Standard for the Surface Flammability of Carpets and Rugs”, also known as FF-170. The standard allows for the exclusion of one of a kind carpets or rugs, such as an antique, an Oriental, or a hide from testing requirements. If a carpet or rug has had a fire-retardant treatment or is made of fibers which have had a fire-retardant treatment, it shall be labeled with the letter “T” pursuant to conditions established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Any material used as scenery and decorations which will either support combustion or carry a flame when subjected to a temperature of twelve hundred degrees Fahrenheit for a period of not less than ten minutes shall conform to the large and small scale tests in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 701 “Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films”. The material shall also be certified by a recognized testing agency, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories.
The furniture manufacturer shall attach the required labeling, as set forth by the applicable standards. The label shall identify the product manufacturer, the fire-resistive rating, and the applicable standards. The label shall remain on all furniture and shall not be removed for any reason.
Furniture Granted Special Exemption
The manufacturer of new furniture or re-upholstered furniture in auditorium and stadium occupancies may request a special exemption from the provisions above when the testing of the seating furniture is prohibitive due to the uniqueness of the seating furniture and its particular function. The procedure for requesting a special exemption shall be:
1. The manufacturer must submit documentation to the Office of the State of Illinois Fire Marshall proving all of the following:
- That the particular seating furniture is of a unique construction and design that is required for a particular function;
- That no other article of seating furniture will provide the same function;
- That the manufacturer of the furniture refuses to submit the item to testing;
- That no other manufacturer produces the item, or that all manufacturers have similarly refused; and
- That the item is not customarily manufactured for and used in public occupancies or is a specialized design manufactured in only limited quantities;
2. The material covering the padding and filling material shall be resistant to the spread of flame;
3. The State of Illinois Fire Marshall’s Office shall grant a special exemption within 30 days when the requirements above have been met. The State of Illinois Fire Marshall’s Office will issue an exemption number and date, which must be included on the label; and
4. The label shall be permanently attached by the manufacturer giving the exemption number and date, as well as the Manufacturer’s name and address. The University must also maintain records of the furniture and the exemption.
Reviewed: October 2022