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GREENSBORO, N.C.-A new warning tag, revisions to California Technical Bulletin 117 and an impending briefing package on regulations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) were the hot topics at a flammability workshop held by the American Furniture Manufacturers Association last week.

Among the speakers and attendees gathered for the meeting were furniture manufacturers, testing experts, fabric suppliers and government officials. Dale Ray, project manager for upholstered furniture flammability with the CPSC, gave an update on the agency's efforts to address small open-flame ignition of upholstered furniture. The industry's voluntary effort, the Upholstered Furniture Action Council (UFAC), covers only smoldering cigarette ignition.

"Fire deaths are down," Ray said. "But that is due almost entirely to a reduction in cigarette ignitions. The problem for us now is small open-flame ignition, which has shown no significant trend up or down. There's no voluntary standard to take care of that, and that's why we're involved." Ray said he hopes to have a briefing package to CPSC commissioners within a month. "We're looking for a good voluntary solution. Our goal is to reduce burns, increase flexibility for manufacturers and preserve consumer choice." With small open-flame ignition a pressing concern, UFAC has decided to update its familiar gold hang tag. While the old hang tag was reassuring, the new version is more like a warning label. "Warning: Flammable" appears in large type at the top of the inside message. New wording specifically addresses small open flames: "Keep upholstery away from flames or lit cigarettes." The new tag is also 20 percent larger.

California, the only state to require its own upholstered furniture flammability standards, is considering revising its standards. From the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, Karen Hatchel, bureau chief, and John McCormack, manager of research and development, presented a sneak peek at likely revisions to California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117).

TB 117, in effect since 1975, mandates flammability standards for residential upholstered furniture. "The product and materials are changing, and we want to be responsive to that," said McCormack. Revisions will likely be based on the tougher British standard. Hatchel said she intends to have a proposed standard ready for review and industry input by the end of the year, with implementation in late 2003.
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Author:Schroeder, Angel
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 12, 2001
Previous Article:FURNITURE BRIEFS.

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