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NIST Develops Standard Cigarette for Fire Safety Testing

House fire (A. Kotok)

(A. Kotok)

Makers of home furnishings need to test their products for fire resistance, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland has come up with a tool to help: a cigarette. A responsibility of NIST, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is development of standard reference materials (SRMs) for industrial testing, and this standard cigarette is one of them.

NIST’s SRM 1196, “Standard Cigarette for Ignition Resistance Testing,” consists of 10 packs of uniform cigarettes designed to replicate the ignition performance of the hottest burning brand produced in the 1970s when NIST studied the fire-starting propensity of commercially sold tobacco products. NIST says the standard cigarettes are designed to be placed on a mattress, a piece of upholstered furniture or furniture components to verify if these items have been manufactured to meet mandatory and voluntary federal, state and/or industry guidelines for resistance to ignition by burning cigarettes.

The cigarettes were developed by NIST with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to replace the commercial cigarettes that had been used for 30 years of home furnishings testing but are no longer in production.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoking is the most frequent cause of fatalities from residential fires in the United States. Nearly all of the United States and Canada are covered by regulations that require cigarettes to have a reduced propensity for igniting household furnishings.

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