In October 2015, AHFA formally petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt the performance standards and test methods prescribed by California’s revised flammability standard, Technical Bulletin 117-2013, as a national, mandatory flammability standard for residential furniture.
The agency evaluated the prospective benefits and costs of adopting the measure but, in September 2016, announced it would pursue “alternative approaches that address the hazard through a combination of research, education and outreach, and voluntary standards efforts.” However, no alternative approaches to the TB 117-2013 standard have been proposed by the Commission.
AHFA subsequently developed the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA), legislation that would end the CPSC’s 40-year stalemate over upholstered furniture flammability by mandating adoption of TB 117-2013.
SOFFA would ensure all upholstered furniture sold in the United States meets a rigorous fire safety threshold. It mandates the best test methods and construction standards of today but would not prohibit the CPSC from future rulemaking if new fire safety technologies became available.
SOFFA was introduced in the House and Senate in 2017-2018, but the 115th Congress adjourned in January 2019 with no action on the measure.
Both houses took the legislation up again in early 2019. Bipartisan support includes Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), who co-sponsored SOFFA in the House, and Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who sponsored the Senate version.
In October 2019, the CPSC again declined to take action on upholstered furniture flammability. In a September 2019 briefing package, the agency’s staff recommended terminating rulemaking, having been unable to identify a feasible alternative to smolder testing.
In December 2019, the House passed SOFFA. AHFA now awaits action in the Senate. (January 2020)