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CPSC RIN: 3041-AB35 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: Flammability Standard for Upholstered Furniture 
Abstract:

In October 2003, the Commission issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to address the risk of fire associated with cigarette and small open-flame ignitions of upholstered furniture. The Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in March 2008, and received public comments. The Commission's proposed rule would require that upholstered furniture have cigarette-resistant fabrics or cigarette- and open flame-resistant barriers. The proposed rule would not require flame-resistant chemicals in fabrics or fillings. CPSC staff is conducting technical work to support a Final Rule. Since the Commission published the NPRM, CPSC staff has conducted testing of upholstered furniture, using both full-scale furniture and bench-scale models, as proposed in the NPRM. Currently, staff is reviewing fire barriers and fire-resistant fill materials that do not contain organohalogen chemicals as an approach for reducing deaths and injuries associated with furniture fires from upholstered furniture ignitions. Staff will develop a briefing package with options for consideration by the Commission in FY 2017, as well as a briefing package reviewing the pros and cons of adopting California's standard TB-117-2013 in FY 2016. Staff is also actively working with both ASTM and NFPA to evaluate new provisions and improve the existing consensus standards related to upholstered furniture flammability.

 
Agency: Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: 16 CFR 1634   
Legal Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1193    5 U.S.C. 801   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

From 2009 to 2011, an annual average of approximately 5,000 residential fires in which upholstered furniture was the first item to ignite resulted in an estimated 410 deaths, 730 civilian injuries, and about $280 million in property damage that could be addressed by a flammability standard. The total annual societal cost attributable to these upholstered furniture fire losses was more than $3.8 billion for 2008-2011. This total includes fires ignited by small open-flame sources and cigarettes.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

Section 4 of the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) (15 U.S.C. 1193) authorizes the Commission to issue a flammability standard or other regulation for a product of interior furnishing if the Commission determines that such a standard is "needed to adequately protect the public against unreasonable risk of the occurrence of fire leading to death or personal injury, or significant property damage." The Commission's regulatory proceeding could result in several actions, one of which could be the development of a mandatory standard requiring that upholstered furniture sold in the United States meet mandatory requirements specified in the standard.

Alternatives:

(1) The Commission could issue a mandatory flammability standard if the Commission finds that such a standard is needed to address an unreasonable risk of the occurrence of fire from ignition of upholstered furniture. (2) The Commission could issue mandatory requirements for labeling of upholstered furniture, in addition to, or as an alternative to, the requirements of a mandatory flammability standard. (3) The Commission could terminate the proceeding for development of a flammability standard and rely on a voluntary standard if a voluntary standard would adequately address the risk of fire, and substantial compliance with such a standard is likely to result.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The estimated annual cost of imposing a mandatory standard to address ignition of upholstered furniture will depend upon the test requirements in the Final Rule and the steps manufacturers take to meet those requirements. Depending upon the test requirements, a standard may reduce upholstered furniture-related fire losses, the annual societal cost of which was more than $3.8 billion for 2008 to 2011. Thus, the potential benefits of a mandatory standard to address the risk of ignition of upholstered furniture could be significant, even if the standard did not prevent all such fires.

Risks:

The estimated average annual cost to society from residential fires associated with upholstered furniture was $3.8 billion for 2008 to 2011. Societal costs associated with upholstered furniture fires are among the highest associated with any product subject to the Commission's authority. A standard has the potential to reduce these societal costs.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  06/15/1994  59 FR 30735   
Commission Hearing May 5 & 6, 1998 on Possible Toxicity of Flame-Retardant Chemicals  03/17/1998  63 FR 13017   
Meeting Notice  03/20/2002  67 FR 12916   
Notice of Public Meeting  08/27/2003  68 FR 51564   
Public Meeting  09/24/2003 
ANPRM  10/23/2003  68 FR 60629   
ANPRM Comment Period End  12/22/2003    
Staff Held Public Meeting  10/28/2004    
Staff Held Public Meeting  05/18/2005    
Staff Sent Status Report to Commission  01/31/2006    
Staff Sent Status Report to Commission   11/03/2006    
Staff Sent Status Report to Commission  12/28/2006    
Staff Sent Options Package to Commission  12/22/2007    
Commission Decision to Direct Staff to Prepare Draft NPRM  12/27/2007 
Staff Sent Draft NPRM to Commission  01/22/2008    
Commission Decision to Publish NPRM  02/01/2008    
NPRM  03/04/2008  73 FR 11702   
NPRM Comment Period End  05/19/2008    
Staff Published NIST Report on Standard Test Cigarettes  05/19/2009    
Staff Publishes NIST Report on Standard Research Foam  09/14/2012 
Notice of April 25 Public Meeting and Request for Comments  03/20/2013  78 FR 17140   
Staff Holds Upholstered Furniture Fire Safety Technology Meeting  04/25/2013 
Comment Period End  07/01/2013 
Staff Sends Briefing Package to Commission on California's TB117-2013  09/08/2016 
Staff Sends NPRM Briefing Package to Commission  09/00/2017 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Andrew Lock
Project Manager, Directorate for Laboratory Sciences
Consumer Product Safety Commission
National Product Testing and Evaluation Center, 5 Research Place,
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone:301 987-2099
Email: alock@cpsc.gov