AHFA filed the petition October 30 on behalf of a Joint Industry Coalition representing a diverse group of stakeholders who have been working on upholstered furniture flammability issues for decades. The petition proposes that the standards and test methods in TB 117-2013 be adopted as a national, mandatory flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture under the Flammable Fabrics Act.
“This petition provides the CPSC with an opportunity to bring closure to the longstanding issue of furniture flammability,” states Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
Groups participating in the coalition include: the American Fiber Producers Association, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Cotton Council of America, National Council of Textile Organizations, North American Home Furnishings Association, Polyurethane Foam Association and Upholstered Furniture Action Council.
For 40 years, the CPSC has been evaluating whether it should adopt national regulations that would establish flammability standards for residential upholstered furniture. In 2008, after almost 15 years of regulatory activity, the CPSC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that outlined a flammability standard primarily focused on protecting consumers from fires started by smoking materials. The CPSC focused on a smolder test, because cigarettes are the source of ignition in 90% of the upholstered furniture fires that result in a fatality.
The effort stalled, however, as competing stakeholders argued for an open-flame test, and environmental groups expressed deepening concern that flame retardants would be needed to meet those testing requirements.
The 2013 amendments to TB 117 resulted from an extensive regulatory review process that included the active participation of fire safety experts, the furniture manufacturing industry, environmental groups and many others. It essentially achieved the same objectives as the CPSC’s proposed 2008 rule by focusing on the risk of smolder ignition of cover fabrics.
Adoption of this standard under the Flammable Fabrics Act, coupled with a robust labeling program that attests to a manufacturer’s compliance with the required test methods and performance standards, would create a national standard that addresses the issue of smolder ignition for residential upholstered furniture, saves lives and reduces losses at a relatively low cost to the CPSC, the industry and the consumer.