Federal Flammability Act Proposed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, November 2, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act, legislation that would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt California Technical Bulletin 117-2013 as a federal flammability standard.

“I was pleased to introduce this legislation creating a clear federal standard on furniture flammability,” Griffith said. “If enacted, furniture manufacturers would continue to make safe products without worrying about a tangle of varying state regulations.”

The American Home Furnishings Alliance, a trade association representing more than 230 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, backs the bill.

“H.R. 4220, or SOFFA, provides a workable solution to a 40-year stalemate at the CPSC. 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.

TB 117-2013 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 upholstered residential 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. SOFFA 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.

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

The CPSC staff completed the briefing package in September 2016. It recommended against adopting TB 117-2013 and instead advised the commissioners to pursue “alternative approaches that address the hazard through a combination of research, education and outreach, and voluntary standards efforts.” However, since then, no alternative approaches to the TB 117-2013 smolder standard have been recommended.

###

The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide