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Consumer Agency Proposes Upholstery Fabric Standard

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Outlook

Consumer Agency Proposes Upholstery Fabric StandardThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has unanimously voted to expand its flammable fabrics regulations to develop a standard for upholstery fabric, which for the first time would focus on the role of cigarettes and small open flame sources such as candles, lighters and matches in household fires. In making the announcement, Chairman Hal Stratton said new technologies and better cooperation from industry make the development of such a standard viable. While upholstery fabric manufacturers have long sought such a standard, any attempt to point the finger at cigarettes has been strongly resisted by the tobacco industry. A notice of the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register in order to receive comments before the commission will act on a final standard. The standard will apply to imports as well as domestic products.While there has been a voluntary standard for cigarette ignition resistance for some time, and most upholstered fabric meets that standard, there has been no mandatory standard for addressing open flame ignition. At a Sept. 24 public meeting held by the CPSC, industry representatives voiced strong support for a mandatory standard covering both cigarettes and open flames. Commissioner Thomas Moore said he hopes the commissions action will help reduce what he says is the still large proportion of fire losses resulting from cigarette ignition of furniture. He said he hopes the commissions action will expedite the process of adopting mandatory standard for furniture flammability.The proposal has the strong support of the National Association of State Fire Marshals.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent November 2003