Fire-risk furniture alertPublic warned over danger Polish imports

23 November 2006

Fire-risk furniture is being shipped into the UK from Eastern Europe, a watchdog warned today.

The Trading Standards Institute says that many sofas from Poland fail to meet strict UK safety standards.

The cheap upholstered furniture, which often ends up on the black market, could pose a serious risk to the public because it doesn't meet the UK's fire safety regulations.

'Considerable risk'

David Roderick, Chairman of the Trading Standards Institute, said: ‘Ever since 2004 when Poland became part of the EU, customs officers have been powerless to stop lorries entering the UK and so trade in these sofas has flourished.

‘Tests have shown that much of this furniture is unsafe and that the British public is being exposed to considerable risk.

‘I have written to the Department of Trade and Industry and the Polish Embassy to call for tighter controls on this furniture.’

Mr Roderick said the TSI hoped the Polish government would agree to enforce stricter safety standards on its furniture industry.

Black market scams

Much of the imported furniture is being sold on the black market, exposing the most vulnerable members of society to the greatest risk.

Sarah Smith, Trading Standards Institute Lead Officer for Scams, said: ‘Salespeople will tour an area, often going door-to-door, and then they use high pressure sales techniques to lure the people into buying the stock.

‘Another scam is to advertise the furniture in newspaper classifieds where it is often listed as second-hand, ex-display, even unwanted wedding gifts.

‘With prices as low as £300, people are fooled into thinking they are getting a bargain when in reality they are getting anything but.’