SGS Details North American Flammability Standards For Tents And Sleeping Bags

GENEVA, Switzerland — November 5, 2020 — SGS, an inspection, verification, testing and certification service provider, has published details of the flammability standards that tents and sleeping bags must conform to in North America. This advice comes at a time of growth in the camping market as consumers look for alternatives to flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent survey by Kampgrounds of America (KOA) found that 20 percent of the people booking into their sites in 2020 were first time campers. Many people see holidaying close to home as a safer alternative to flying during the pandemic. At the same time, it allows them access to the outdoors at a time when many people are restricted to their homes. Camping also has the added advantage of being a relatively cheap holiday with a low barrier to entry – an inexpensive tent from a local store is all that is needed.

While being in the great outdoors is certainly healthy, it is not without dangers and chief among these risks is fire. To reduce the chance of injury, modern tents and sleeping bags are manufactured with flammability in mind.

Manufacturers of tents and sleeping bags operating in the markets of Canada and the United States must ensure their products are safe and conform to relevant market legislation.

In Canada, the tent is defined under Item 31.1 of Part II of Schedule I of Canada’s Hazardous Products Act as a shelter made in whole or in part of fabric or other pliable materials. A new national standard for tent flammability and labeling — CAN/CGSB-182.1-2020 — was published by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) in April 2020. This replaces the Tent Regulation (SOR/2016-185), although currently the new standard is voluntary until amendments are made to both tent and toy regulations.

The USA does not have specific legislation covering tent flammability at the national level but several states, including California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey, mandate CPAI-84 — Flammability of Camping Tents. However, this standard is now outdated in terms of most modern tent materials. Instead, tent manufacturers should follow ASTM F3431-20 — Standard Specification for Determining Flammability of Materials for Recreational Camping Tents and Warning Labels for Associated Hazards. This is a revision of CPAI-84 and it follows the test methods and flammability requirements in CAN/CGSB-182.1-2020.

Manufacturers should note that California makes a distinction between small (less than ten people) and large tents. The fire marshal’s office states that the materials in a small tent must comply with the Title 19 small scale test, which does not differentiate between the materials used for flooring, walls and roof materials. For large tents, the Californian code can be interpreted as requiring compliance with NFPA 701 – applicable when the tent functions as a public assembly space.

When looking at sleeping bags, both Canada and the US use technically equivalent standards:

  • Canada: ASTM F1955-15 Standard Test Method for Flammability of Sleeping Bags; and
  • USA: CPAI-75:1976A Rate of Burn Standard for Sleeping Bags.

Around the world, tents and sleeping bags might not have specific legislation relating to tent and sleeping bag flammability but they will still come under general safety requirements. This can still mean recalls if the product is found to be dangerous. It is therefore important that tent and sleeping bag manufacturers ensure their products comply with the correct market regulations for fire safety.

Posted November 6, 2020

Source: SGS