Flame standards debate burns on
December 8, 2003,
New York — While California's rule-making on mattress flammability standards is now in its final stages, home textiles suppliers are still working with the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission on the issues of decorative fabrics, top-of-the-bed products and down and feather specifically.
Interestingly, there is little cross-pollination among home furnishings product groups in their approach to the flammability issues that impact the entire marketplace.
A unified point of view has emerged among one group of players: decorative fabrics producers. They are impacted by potential regulations for upholstered furniture, top of the bed products, and fabrics sold by the yard at retail and through designers.
At the federal level, "things are moving ahead in a pretty positive mood, though nothing is final," said Richard Taffet, of Thelan Reid & Priest, counsel for both the Decorative Fabrics Association and the Textile Producers & Suppliers Association.
"There is a growing consensus on all sides, including [among] the fire marshals about the Quaker-led coalition that has made a proposal to the CPSC regarding the fabric requirements and testing standards. The important thing is that there would be the possibility of using a barrier fabric for upholstered furniture if the fabric did not meet the standards," Taffet explained.
Comments on the flammability issues are due to the CPSC on Dec. 22, Taffet added.
Representing down and feather suppliers, Steve Uretsky, president of Allied Feather, said it remains unclear what will be required of down and feather companies if new regulations are issued for mattresses (TB 603) and/or top-of-bed products (TB 604).
"For down and feathers, there's no issue of flammability. They don't burn," Uretsky noted. "But the California legislation does not allow the CDCA to exclude any segment of the business."
For down and feathers, Bob Leo of Meeks & Sheppard, counsel to the Home Fashion Products Association, expects a washability standard for cover fabrics. "The case will have to withstand a certain number of washes" before the flammability deterrent disappears, he said.
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