By David Reed, UT Editor North Highlands, California-The California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation says it supports the adoption of an open-flame hazard in the proposed federal standard for the fire safety of mattresses, mattress sets, and futons. It also supports the adoption of a criterion for total heat release which is stricter than required by California’s recently introduced Technical Bulletin 603 (TB 603).Furthermore, the adoption of a national standard “will level the playing field for the mattress market in the United States,” the bureau added, in a 29 March letter to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission which is promulgating the standard.The bureau also recommended that the final standard should closely resemble California’s TB 603. This test, which came into force from 1 Jan of this year, limits fire growth in mattresses, mattress/box spring sets, and futons when exposed to a large open flame for 30 minutes, the bureau claims.TB 603 is identical to that proposed in the federal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the letter continues, except that the CPSC proposes a more stringent criterion for total heat release. This should not exceed 15 megajoules in the first 10 minutes rather than the 25 megajoules specified in TB 603.NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has shown that this decreases the probability that the fire will spread and contribute to flashover, the bureau’s letter said.In addition, this stricter criterion will provide added safety for smaller mattress products, which alone may not produce a peak heat release of 200 kilowatts but may contribute to the ignition of other combustibles in the bedroom if a 25 megajoule heat output is allowed, the bureau commented.No supply or cost disruptionExperience in California so far suggests that the TB 603 requirements have not caused major supply chain or cost disruptions. Since the beginning of the year, the bureau says it has tested mattress products from about 68 different manufacturers and reports an 80.8 % pass rate. The failures either did not contain fire-resistant barrier protection or the barrier system had design, material, or construction defects, which could reasonably be corrected with improved quality controls. This indicates that mattresses may be routinely made to comply with this standard if the manufacturer is intentional about compliance and due diligence is undertaken, the bureau concluded.”
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