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From Home Furnishing Business

AHFA Supports House Bill to Adopt National Flammability Rules

The American Home Furnishings Alliance has thrown its support behind a bill in the U.S. House that would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt California’s upholstery flammability standard as the federal flammability standard.

AHFA officials said the bill, known officially as the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act, would end a 40-year stalemate at the CPSC, which has demurred on previous attempts to adopt a national flammability standard.

California’s standard, known as TB 117-2013, requires upholstered furniture to pass a “smolder test,” among other things.

“California’s TB 117-2013 is a proven and effective standard that helps protect consumers and reduces the risk of upholstered furniture fires,” said AHFA CEO Andy Counts.

The California law outlines performance standards and methods for testing the smolder resistance of cover fabrics, barrier materials, filling materials and decking materials used in upholstered furniture. It applies to all residential upholstered furniture sold in the State of California.

When it was adopted in 2013, it was endorsed by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including AHFA, fire fighters, fire scientists, environmentalists and consumer groups.

“By making TB 117-2013 a national standard, we can ensure that all upholstered residential furniture sold in the United States meets a rigorous fire safety threshold. (The bill) would mandate the best test methods and construction standards we have today but would not prohibit CPSC from future rulemaking if new fire safety technologies become available,” Counts said.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.

In October 2015, AHFA petitioned the CPSC to adopt the performance standards and test methods prescribed by TB 117-2013 as a national, mandatory flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture, and the agency subsequently directed its staff to prepare a briefing package evaluating the feasibility, benefits and costs of adopting the measure.

According to AHFA, the CPSC staff recommended against adopting the California standard and advised the commissioners to pursue “alternative approaches that address the hazard through a combination of research, education and outreach, and voluntary standards efforts.”

However, no alternative approaches to the TB 117-2013 smolder standard have been recommended, AHFA officials said.

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