If you've been shopping for commercial office furniture, especially in the state of California, chances are high that you've seen fire protection ratings in the descriptions of the products. But what do they mean? The difference between CAL 117 and CAL 133 fire ratings is huge, so read carefully before determining which is the right choice for your business.


What is CAL 117?

CAL 117, short for California Technical Bulletin 117, sets the standard for upholstered furniture flammability regulations in the furniture industry. Although CAL 117 is only legally binding in California, it represents a huge market of needs and should be considered an important feature in office furniture across the country. CAL 117 requires that certain upholsteries pass a smolder and an open flame test. This test is conducted in a closed chamber wherein technicians can adequately measure the way flames spread and the way smolder from a lit cigarette chars the surface of the upholstery. The amount of carbon monoxide, heat and smoke that is formed is also measured and compared to predetermined criteria to determine certification.


What is CAL 133?

While CAL 117 tests for upholstery flammability, CAL 133 tests the entire product. California Bulletin 133 regulations also differ in that they are specific to furniture that will be used in public spaces, including privately owned offices of ten or more people and government buildings. Due to the wide array of combinations in fabric, framework and inner materials, becoming CAL 133 certified poses quite the challenge, as all variations of the product must pass the test to achieve certification.


Understanding the fundamental differences between these two types of certification is only part of the equation. As a business owner or office manager, you need to be aware of the local fire ordinance requirements in your area before even beginning your search for the right furniture. Selecting furniture that meets the criteria outlined in these fire test certifications will help you protect your employees, your customers and your business should a fire ever break out. 


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