CPSC Plans Rulemaking to Reduce Upholstered Furniture Fires

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously (2-0) on Feb. 1 to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) on a new mandatory standard to address residential upholstered furniture fires.

CPSC said the goal of the proposed standard is to prevent ignition or slow the spread and intensity of upholstered furniture fires. These fires cost the U.S. about $1.6 billion each year. CPSC staff estimates the proposed standard, once fully effective, would prevent an estimated 100 deaths and 130 injuries every year.

"Fires involving upholstered furniture are a leading cause of fire-related deaths in U.S. homes," said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Stopping a furniture fire in its tracks or slowing its spread would buy consumers precious time to get out of their homes."

Under the proposal, manufacturers could meet the performance standard by using smolder-resistant cover fabrics or interior fire resistant barriers to protect the furniture's internal filling material which is the primary fuel in an upholstered furniture fire.

CPSC's objective is to reduce the fire risk in upholstered furniture without requiring the use of fire retardant chemicals. Manufacturers will not be required to use chemicals to meet the proposed standard. In its environmental assessment, CPSC staff projects most manufacturers and importers would likely choose options that do not involve fire- retardants in fabrics or filling materials.

"CPSC is now on track to develop a mandatory safety rule that will save lives and protect consumers," added Nord. For more information, visit www.cpsc.gov.

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