Los Angeles, California - California's tough fire safety standards are under attack again by environmental groups and "misinformed activists," said an 11 Aug press statement from pressure group Citizens for Fire Safety (CFFSI)
A revised version of California State Assembly bill AB 706, unveiled in early August, has led to calls from community leaders, fire safety and medical professionals not to weaken existing standards.
CFFI would like everyone involved to "work collectively to find a compromise on the issue of fire safety standards and the use of flame retardants."
Under the AB 706 proposal, California's open-flame standard in its bulletin on furniture safety, TB 117, would be eliminated and replaced with a yet-to-be-developed standard that has no set date for adoption by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), said CFFSI.
"As executive officer of the CPSC, I watched for nearly five years as this proposed standard was reviewed and debated - even under normal circumstances this standard is perhaps a year or more away from being approved -- and that does not factor in a new administration in Washington," stated Harold Stratton, formerly with the CPSC. "This could potentially leave California open to having no standard or a weaker standard than the one currently being used."
CFFSI, a national fire-safety advocacy group, made up of fire professionals, industry representatives, medical and community leaders, has mobilised its organisation to try to derail this latest threat to the California fire standard that it describes as " responsible for reducing California's fire related injuries and deaths by over 50 percent in the last 10 years."
"The proposed changes to AB 706 would undoubtedly put Californians at risk, as the legislation threatens to lessen the existing fire safety standard," said Aubrey Stone, president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce and a member of CFFSI. "Why ignore the flammability test requirements that have kept Californians safe, and manufacturers accountable? The proposed amendment fails to recognize the importance of testing foam cushions and filling, consistently the most flammable components of upholstered furniture. Clearly, the newest version of AB 706 can cause real problems for the citizens of California."
CFFSI said it contacted many of the groups and individuals that had supported the original bill and several indicated that they were unaware of the changes and were reviewing them. Additionally, the last-minute changes have not allowed state fire agencies, groups and organisations the opportunity to evaluate the true impacts of such a dramatic change in fire safety standards.
A recent open-flame test of fire retardants, carried out by the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) on CFFSI's behalf, examined two similar couches -- one with the California-required standard and protections and one without -- burned in a controlled environment.
The couch without the California-mandated fire protections ignited in seconds; the couch that was treated with safe and effective fire retardants barely smouldered, said the group. Video of the couch burn, and copies of the study, can found at http://www.cffsi.org/