Increase in house fires spurs interest in flame-retardant mattresses - Let's talk bromine
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Increase in house fires spurs interest in flame-retardant mattresses

Following a string of recent house fires, mattresses have been identified as a significant factor in the spread of fires, leading to a growing interest in flame-retarded mattresses.

According to South Korea’s National Fire Agency (NFA)’s annual fire statistics report, in 2022, 85 people lost their lives in bedroom fires, and 257 were injured, which is the highest number of casualties of house fires, with the leading cause of bedroom fires being identified as mattresses.

This has led to a growing interest in “flame-retarded mattresses”, products which contain flame retardants (FRs). These are substances which prevent or reduce ignition and the spread of flames, allowing more time for people to escape and for firefighters to intervene. Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are a very successful example of this, as they offer a simple and safe solution to ensure fire safety in wide variety of materials used in different products and surface finishes currently present in modern homes and public spaces[1].

Unlike the US, Canada, and the UK, where the flame retardancy standard for mattresses is stricter, in Korea, fire tests are only conducted by lighting the test object with a cigarette. This only focuses on observing the initial ignition, making it challenging to analyze the combustion of the bed and the risk of fire in homes. Although the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) created a standard[2] that uses the “burner test method” akin to the US in 2017, it is not mandatory to follow this standard in Korea.

Therefore, it is entirely up to the individual consumer to decide whether to purchase flame-retardant mattresses. With the recent bedroom fires and the subsequent disclosure of patents[3] for a flame-retardant mattress by domestic bed industry leader Simmons raising public awareness of flame retardancy of mattresses, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to stricter regulations. Currently, the NFA, KATS, and the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) do not have any concrete plans to strengthen the standard for flame retardancy for mattresses.



[1] For more information: and

[2] KATS’s non-mandatory standard (KS F ISO 12949, Standard test method for measuring the heat release rate of low flammability mattresses and mattress sets) aligns with the international standard(ISO 12949), which is based on the US standard(16 CFR Part 1633). For additional details, please refer to the KATS homepage:;streamdocsId=72059307965217788

[3] Below are the patents for a flame-retardant mattress, disclosed by Simmons.

Registration No. 10-2151273:

Registration No. 10-2151274:

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