David Byrne and Amanda Palmer kill "Burning Down the House" in Brooklyn, June 27, 2012
We have noted many times that flame retardants in polyurethane furniture don't do much at all to stop fires and might do a lot of harm to our kids; Now the New York Fire Department is looking at changing the way they fight fires, in the face of the way fires themselves have changed. Joseph Goldstein writes in the New York Times:
Plastic fillings in sofas and mattresses burn much faster than older fillings like cotton, helping to transform the behavior of house fires in the last few decades, firefighters and engineers say.
With more plastic in homes, residential fires are now likely to use up all the oxygen in a room before they consume all flammable materials. The resulting smoky, oxygen-deprived fires appear to be going out. But they are actually waiting for an inrush of fresh air, which can come as firefighters cut through roofs and break windows.
That's why TreeHugger says: buy natural materials, avoid plastics, and put sprinklers in every housing unit.