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CU Supports Bill Requiring Fire Safety Standards for Furniture, Mattresses and Candles

November 5, 2003

Contact: Sally Greenberg, 202.462.6262

Consumers Union Supports Bill Requiring Fire Safety Standards for
Furniture, Mattresses and Candles
New Guidelines Expected to Save Thousands of Lives Each Year

(Washington, DC) – Consumers Union is supporting legislation that will set fire safety standards for upholstered furniture, mattresses and candles that could save hundreds of lives each year.
Consumers Union today said the American Home Fire Safety Act recently introduced by Sen. Ernest Hollings, ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, is “long overdue.” The legislation directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop fire safety standards for the three specific fire hazards while providing the agency flexibility to promulgate safety standards that are most effective.
“We commend Senator Hollings for introducing this legislation and we are pleased to lend it our support. Candles, mattresses, bedding and upholstered furniture can all be made safer,” said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “The technology exists to help prevent fires — the time has come for us move quickly to use it to prevent the hundreds of tragic deaths and injuries that take place each year.”
Greenberg notes that in 1998, the most recent year statistics are available, there were 12,800 candle-related fires that resulted in 170 deaths, 1,200 injuries and $174.6 million in property damage. Mattress and bedding fires caused 410 deaths, 2,260 injuries and $255.4 million in property damage that same year, while upholstered furniture fires were responsible for 520 deaths in 1998.
Greenberg said Hollings’ bill would give strong guidance to the CPSC, directing it to set safety standards that are currently working in California in the case of furniture and mattresses, and internationally in the case of candles. The CPSC already has voted to move forward on regulating upholstered furniture, and the legislation ought to prompt commission action on the issue.
The bill calls on the commission to set safety standards for upholstered furniture and mattresses that are “substantially the same as” as regulations currently in place for both items in the state of California. CPSC would be further required to set a standard for candles that is substantially similar to the current ASTM International voluntary standard.