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FFMA takes steps on coffin specifications

The Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers Association (FFMA) has agreed in principle steps to improve the safety and efficiency for crematoria of some ‘alternative’ coffins.

At a meeting in March, FFMA members also pledged to take action to ensure that crematoria and their staff are properly informed about coffins.

The moves follow reports from some crematoria of handling and incineration problems with some of the array of coffin types now entering the UK market. As outlined previously in FSJ (November 2012), there have been instances where coffins have collapsed, got stuck on the rollers or have caused ‘flashback’ (a fire explosion).

At the March meeting, members were told that this had already prompted some crematoria to ban certain types of coffins, and they agreed that this accelerated the need to act.

Another suggestion, agreed in principal at that meeting, was to send a letter to all crematoria informing them that all eco coffins have a wood base and a solid front frame. Members were asked to return forms detailing the materials used to the FFMA as quickly as possible so this action could be implemented. Consultation with cremator manufacturers about the possibility of adding gears to the machines to make moving coffins made of other materials easier in the future was also proposed.

The FFMA is already liaising with several other organisations to introduce new coffin specifications for all coffins used in the UK, and to put in place guidelines for crematoria. One proposal that has already received widespread approval is that any coffin entering the UK market should undergo some type of strength and emission test. “These coffins, if approved, would then receive a stamp mark, very much in the same way as a kite mark,” explained committee member Bob Tomes.

The association is expected to be able to report back to members shortly. The other organisations working on the guidelines are the cremation authorities – the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA), the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Managers (ICCM) and the Association of Private Crematoria and Cemeteries (APCC) – as well as and cremator and incineration equipment company Facultatieve Technologies.


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