By David Reed, UT EditorWashington DC-The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted on Tuesday to issue a proposed nationwide safety standard that would require mattresses resist ignition from open flame. It also voted to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to develop a separate safety standard to address the flammability of bedclothes (such as blankets, comforters, and pillows).The proposed mattress standard, which came well in advance of the 1 June 2005 deadline set by the regulators, will be published in the US Federal Register, requesting public comment for a period of 75 days. An opportunity for oral testimony will also be scheduled, CPSC added.The proposed federal standard is modelled closely on the California open-flame safety standard for mattresses, mattress/box springs sets and futons. This safety standard, called Technical Bulletin 603 or TB 603, takes effect from 1 Jan 2005, the CPSC statement pointed out. Common sources of open flames that start mattress fires are candles, lighters and matches. Open-flame protection goes beyond the current federal requirement that mattresses resist smouldering cigarettes. This smoulder-resistance standard will remain in effect, CPSC emphasised.Consumers in California can find products which meet TB 603 in stores now, but consumers should check with the retailer or manufacturer to determine if the product meets the new open-flame safety standard, the CPSC emphasised.All mattresses, mattress/box springs sets and futons manufactured after 1 Jan and sold in California must meet the new state open-flame protection law and must carry a label containing the statement: ‘This product meets the requirements of the California Bureau of Home Furnishings Technical Bulletin 603,’ the CPSC continued.Mattresses, mattress/box springs sets and futons manufactured prior to 1 Jan 2005 do not have to meet the TB 603 standard, they only have to meet the flammability and labelling requirements in effect when they were made. Furthermore, CPSC says, such products can continue to be sold after 1 Jan 2005, so consumers will continue to find both newer open-flame-resistant products, and older products that are designed only to resist cigarettes, in stores for some time.The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation developed Technical Bulletin 603 in response to legislation that became law in 2001.From 1995 through 1999, mattresses and bedding were the first items to ignite in an estimated 19 400 residential fires each year, CPSC pointed out. These fires resulted in an estimated 440 deaths, 2230 injuries and $273.9 million in property losses annually. CPSC staff estimates that most of these deaths and injuries would be addressed by the proposed standard.”
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