If you aren’t involved in the funeral industry, then you may well be oblivious to the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association (F.F.M.A.).
The F.F.M.A. was established back in 1939 and aims to safeguard and improve the high standards of the products and services its members provide. This is a wide remit. In the main, the products that the F.F.M.A. is focusing on are coffins, caskets and shrouds. Their extensive Code of Conduct covers member service standards. The F.F.M.A. also represents its members on both the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Funerals and Bereavement and the Deceased Management Advisory Group. (The latter was formed as a result of the pandemic and will continue to carry out important work in the future.)
The F.F.M.A. is an important organisation and, during the course of your lifetime, it will probably play a part. Like it or not, death is one thing none of us can avoid!
Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association approved items
The Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association has developed a rigorous testing protocol to ensure that coffins and caskets are fit for purpose. The protocol launched in 2016 and Musgrove Willows quickly took the decision to have our willow coffins tested. (Our coffins passed!)
To date, the F.F.M.A. has tested around 180 member products. In the case of coffins, these are tested to make sure that they are fit for purpose. Often, cheaper willow/wicker coffins are not well enough made to cope with a heavy weight. There is a huge difference between a willow coffin made by a skilled weaver with good quality willow and one woven by someone without proper training and with poor materials.
The testing protocol
Tests are carried out by an independent company. A coffin or casket has to pass 8 mandatory tests before it can be licenced and stamped with the F.F.M.A’s pass standard mark.
Test 1 is Coffin Strength, Test 2 Roller Bearing / Ball Bearing Functionality, Test 3 Auto Charger, Test 4 Mechanical Insertion, Test 5 Ignition / Radiant Heat, Test 6 Ash, Test 7 Handles, (is optional, our willow handles are weight bearing) Test 8 Residue and Test 9 Coffin Lining. The certification scheme is incredibly comprehensive.
A crematorium can reject a coffin
Another fact that probably isn’t widely known is that staff at a crematorium are well within their rights to refuse a coffin that hasn’t been approved by the F.F.M.A. Indeed, there are crematoria that note the F.F.M.A. accreditation number of each and every coffin. Can you imagine being turned away from a crematorium when you are trying to say goodbye to a loved one?
As green and woodland burials continue to grow in popularity, it is important that the coffin reflects the ethos behind these places of rest. A plastic free, environmentally friendly willow coffin is ideal. (Our coffins can be closed with wooden toggles and the waterproof liner is made from corn starch. The entire item is 100% biodegradable. Even our name plaques are made from sustainable oak and tied to the coffin with willow.)
Membership of the F.F.M.A. is growing
Every month, new members are joining the F.F.M.A. These can range from small, family run coffin manufacturers specialising in reclaimed materials to Funeral Directors offering motorbike themed services. As more people seek alternatives to a traditional funeral service, organisations such as The Association of Independent Celebrants are becoming members of the F.F.M.A. The more companies that uphold the standards and ethos of the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association the better!
The team at the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association do a huge amount of great work and so do their members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget the incredible endeavours of those involved in the funeral industry. Without them, the country would be a lot worse off.