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Living in the state of Denial

Whew. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the folks in the home furnishings world as they reacted to the news that the dreaded, but not yet defined, California flammability regs would probably be set back by up to two years.

The "whew" would be the reaction to news that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission might preempt California in its upcoming legislation requiring new safety standards for mattresses.

Furniture and home textiles regs look to be sure bets to follow in California's agenda, if history is a guide.

But for most, this subject falls into tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

For once, the furniture world appears to be a tad more involved in solving a challenge than the home textiles players. There's really been no organized industry-wide game plan for either working with the California folks, the CPSC or themselves to develop even a rough outline of what should be done — from an economic, aesthetic or practical viewpoint.

Over the last year or so, since the passage of the California law that mandated new flammability standards to become an actuality by Jan. 1, 2004, there has been an enormous "If we don't pay it attention, it won't happen" attitude — especially among the folks in the home textiles world.

From a selfish perspective, there's a heap of money that will be made by some of the companies that are proposing some of the new technologies. And who's to look negatively on a heap of money in this day and age — or any age for that matter?

Meanwhile those working behind the scenes, as well as in public, have a number of personality issues to confront as well as the basic presumption of need on this subject.

Quietly working on the federal level is the National Association of Fire Marshals, who are being very aggressive in their goals for stricter flammability regulations for mattresses and other home furnishings. Their leader is John Sununu, chief of staff in the Bush I regime, who is said to have the ears of many in Bush II's inner circle.

Who says connections have nothing to do with politics?

Whatever the time frame, it's critical that the home fashions world become more involved.

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