A Suffolk-based timber treater has been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £8,500 costs for giving a false trade descriptions about the fire performance of MDF it treated.

Beccles-based Fabric Flare Ltd, a fire protection consultants/engineers and soft furnishings business,

was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of stamping a false trade description, BS 476:Part Class 1, onto an MDF sheet on November 30, 2001.

The case was brought by Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards. Another charge under construction products regulations was withdrawn.

Trading Standards was originally contacted by Weyerhaeuser Europe Ltd, which said MDF panels it had treated by Fabric Flare failed subsequent fire peformance tests.

Trading Standards officers posing as builders submitted several MDF boards to Fabric Flare for treatment to BS 476:Part 7 (Class 1) for intended use at a fireworks shop. The court heard the products were stamped as Class 1 but later tests revealed some only met Class 3 standards.

Fabric Flare uses its own Duraflam Duracote spray process to treat timber.

The company’s managing director Michael Wolfinden admitted to a breakdown in communication. He said staff tried to query the order but there was no response from the number left by Trading Standards officers.

He said: “It’s very disruptive. No matter how supportive a customer is, and 99% have expressed their total support, there is this lingering feeling that we have been sullied by this.”

A trading standards spokesperson said: “The boards treated by Fabric Flare failed strict fire tests and had they been used in a public building would have risked life in the event of a fire.”

It is urging the company to contact previous customers to ensure MDF boards meet standards.