[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 54 (Wednesday, March 20, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 17140-17142]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06372]


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CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

[CPSC Docket No. CPSC-2008-0005]

16 CFR Part 1634


Upholstered Furniture Fire Safety Technology; Meeting and Request 
for Comments

AGENCY: Consumer Product Safety Commission.

ACTION: Announcement of meeting and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC, Commission, or 
we) is announcing its intent to hold a meeting on upholstered furniture 
fire safety technologies. The meeting will be held at the CPSC's 
laboratory in Rockville, MD, on April 25, 2013. We invite interested 
parties to participate in or attend the meeting. We also invite 
interested parties to submit comments related to the meeting or the 
possible change in regulatory approach discussed in this notice.

DATES: The meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on April 
25, 2013. Individuals interested in serving on panels or presenting 
information at the meeting should register by March 25, 2013; all other 
individuals who wish to attend the meeting should register by April 18, 
2013. Written comments must be received by July 1, 2013.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the CPSC's National Product 
Testing and Evaluation Center, 5 Research Place, Rockville, MD 20850. 
Persons interested in serving on a panel, presenting information, or 
attending the meeting should register online at http://www.cpsc.gov/meetingsignup.html and click on the link titled, ``Upholstered 
Furniture Fire Safety Technology Meeting.''
    You may submit written comments, identified by Docket No. CPSC-
2008-0005, by any of the following methods:
    Submit electronic comments in the following way:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments. The Commission does not accept 
comments submitted by electronic mail (email), except through 
www.regulations.gov.
    Submit written submissions in the following way:
    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper, disk, or CD-ROM 
submissions), preferably in five copies, to: Office of the Secretary, 
Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, 
Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504-7923.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this notice. All comments received may be posted 
without change, including any personal identifiers, contact 
information, or other personal information provided, to http://www.regulations.gov. Do not submit confidential business information, 
trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information 
electronically. Such information should be submitted in writing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rohit Khanna, Office of Hazard 
Identification and Reduction, 5 Research Place, Rockville, MD 20850, 
telephone 301-987-2508, email furnituretechmeeting@cpsc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    On March 4, 2008, the Commission published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPR) proposing a standard for the flammability of 
residential upholstered furniture. 73 FR 11702. The NPR originated from 
a petition submitted by the National Association of State Fire Marshals 
(NASFM) in 1993, and subsequent work by CPSC staff. The

[[Page 17141]]

history of the upholstered furniture rulemaking is summarized in the 
preamble to the NPR. 73 FR 11702. Under the NPR, upholstered furniture 
could meet the proposed standard by having either: (1) Upholstery cover 
material that complies with the prescribed smoldering ignition 
resistance test (called ``Type I furniture'') or (2) an interior fire 
barrier that complies with specified smoldering and open-flame ignition 
resistance tests (called ``Type II furniture''). The proposed rule set 
forth performance tests to be conducted with materials installed in 
mockups (using standardized test materials) to simulate the 
intersection of the seating area of an item of upholstered furniture. 
At the time the NPR was published, CPSC staff stated that real scale 
validation testing was needed to demonstrate that the bench-scale test 
approach in the NPR was adequate to address the fire performance of 
full-scale furniture. This point was also raised later in public 
comments received in response to the NPR.
    Since the Commission published the NPR, CPSC staff has conducted 
testing of upholstered furniture, using both full-scale furniture and 
bench-scale models, as proposed in the NPR. For this test series, the 
bench-scale performance did not demonstrate an adequate prediction of 
real furniture flammability performance, especially in the smoldering 
ignition tests. The open-flame ignition bench-scale qualification tests 
for fire barriers, however, do appear to result in improvements in 
full-scale fire performance. At this point, CPSC's testing indicates 
significant promise for barriers as a means to address the flammability 
risk posed by upholstered furniture.
    The Commission staff believes that fire barrier technology likely 
has advanced since publication of the NPR. One purpose of the Fire 
Safety Technology meeting is to gather additional information about the 
current and anticipated progress in fire barrier technologies and their 
application to upholstered furniture. Another purpose is to discuss 
other technologies and options to reduce the fire hazard posed by 
residential furniture.

II. Topics for the Meeting

    In general, the meeting will focus on current and anticipated 
progress on fire barrier technologies and other options to reduce the 
fire hazard posed by residential furniture. We have identified the 
topics for the meeting below. In Section IV of this notice, we are 
seeking written comments on these topics as well as additional topics 
that are beyond the scope of what will be discussed at the meeting. We 
have identified the following specific topics we would like panelists 
to address at the meeting:

    1. Fire Barriers
     Types of products available
     Materials and technologies used in fire barriers
     Capabilities and limitations of fire barriers
     Mattress fire barriers
     Cost considerations
    2. Commercial Furniture Fire Safety Technologies
     Fire reduction strategies
     Applicability to residential furniture
    3. Application of Other Fire Safety Technologies to Residential 
Furniture
     Fire technologies used in marine and aviation furniture
     Fire technologies used in other countries
     Cost considerations

    We will determine the order of the panel sessions once we confirm 
the number of panelists available for each topic area. We may combine, 
expand, or eliminate panel sessions, depending upon the level of 
interest. The final schedule will be announced on our Web site by April 
11, 2013.

III. Details Regarding the Meeting

A. When and where will the meeting be held?

    The meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on April 25, 
2013, at the CPSC's Laboratory, 5 Research Place, Rockville, MD 20850.

B. How do you register for the meeting?

    If you would like to be a panelist for a specific session of the 
meeting, you should register by March 25, 2013. (See the ADDRESSES 
portion of this document for the Web site link and instructions on 
where to register.) We also ask that you submit a brief (less than 200 
word) abstract of your topic and area of expertise. If we receive more 
requests for a particular session from potential panelists than time 
will allow, staff will select panelists based on a variety of 
considerations, including: Whether the information to be presented has 
been received in previous open comment periods; the individual's 
familiarity or expertise with the topic to be discussed; the practical 
utility in the information to be presented; the topic's relevance to 
the identified theme and topic area. Although an effort will be made to 
accommodate all persons who wish to be panelists, we expect to limit 
each panel session to no more than approximately five panelists. 
Therefore, the final number of panelists may be limited. We recommend 
that individuals and organizations with common interests consolidate or 
coordinate their panelist requests. To assist in making final panelist 
selections, staff may ask potential panelists to submit planned 
presentations in addition to the initial abstract. We plan to notify 
selected panelists by April 4, 2013.
    If you wish to attend and participate in the meeting, but you do 
not wish to be a panelist, you should register by April 18, 2013, and 
identify your affiliation. Every effort will be made to accommodate 
each person's request; however, we may need to limit registration to 
meet the occupant capacity of our meeting rooms. If you are unable to 
attend the meeting in person, the meeting will be available through a 
webcast, but you will not be able to interact with the panels and 
presenters. You do not need to register for the webcast.
    If you wish to submit written comments, you may do so before or 
after the meeting, by any of the methods stated in the ADDRESSES 
portion of this notice. These comments should be received by July 1, 
2013. Comments should focus on new information that was not submitted 
previously that is related to the topic areas listed above.

C. What will be the format of the meeting?

    The meeting will open with a plenary session that includes a brief 
overview of the Commission's past activities on the furniture 
flammability rulemaking. Following that, there will be a series of 
panels covering the topics listed above. Each panel session will 
consist of stakeholders and members of the public and will be moderated 
by CPSC staff. We expect potential panelists to speak for approximately 
10 minutes each about their topic area. At the conclusion of the 
panel's presentations, there will be a question, answer, and discussion 
session among the panelists and the audience, limited to the topics 
discussed by the panelists. Each panel session is expected to last 
approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

D. What happens if few people register for the meeting?

    If fewer than 6 panelists or 20 participants register for the 
meeting, we may cancel the meeting. If we decide to cancel the meeting 
for this or any other reason, we will post a cancellation notice on the 
registration Web page for the meeting and send an email to each 
registered participant who provides a valid email address when 
registering.

IV. Request for Comments

    We request comments on the possibility of moving from a regulatory

[[Page 17142]]

approach that primarily addresses fire deaths caused by smoldering 
ignition sources using bench scale models to one that relies on the use 
of fire barriers to address fires started by multiple types of ignition 
sources (including smoking materials) by limiting fire growth similar 
to the performance requirements in 16 CFR 1633. Staff has encountered 
problems with controlling standard materials (foam, fabric, barriers) 
when used in bench scale tests with a smoldering ignition source. Staff 
became concerned with the NPR approach when correlation of fire 
performance between bench scale tests and full scale chair tests--when 
tested for smoldering ignition--was not validated. Chairs tested with 
fire barriers consistently performed better than non-barrier chairs in 
open flame testing. In assessing the potential new strategy, CPSC staff 
is seeking information on the following questions:
    1. Can fire barriers used by the mattress industry be used in 
upholstered furniture applications?
    2. What modifications to mattress fire barriers, if any, are 
necessary to make them effective in upholstered furniture?
    3. What technologies (Fire retardant (FR) chemicals, specialty 
fibers/fabrics without FR chemicals, inherently fire resistant 
materials, etc.) do fire barrier manufacturers use to achieve improved 
fire performance?
    4. Do fire barrier manufacturers use FR chemicals to achieve 
improved fire performance? If so, are the FR chemicals covalently 
bonded to the barrier? What is the risk of human exposure from the 
specific FR chemicals used? What exposure testing and data exists for 
the specific FR chemicals used? Is the product that uses an FR chemical 
based fire barrier labeled to indicate use of such FR chemicals within 
it?
    5. What, if any, FR chemicals are used in mattress or other fire 
barrier technologies?
    6. What are the cost considerations for using fire barriers? How 
does furniture manufacturing and assembling change with a fire barrier?
    7. Given the variety of ignition sources involved in furniture 
fires, which ignition sources resulting in fatalities would fire 
barriers be effective in addressing the fatalities?
    8. What fire safety technologies from commercial furniture can be 
applied to residential furniture?
    9. What fire safety technologies from other industries (e.g., 
marine, aviation) can be applied to residential furniture?
    10. For fire barrier materials that do not use FR chemical 
treatments, what materials are used and what human exposure data exist 
for those materials?

    Dated: March 15, 2013.
Todd A. Stevenson,
Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
[FR Doc. 2013-06372 Filed 3-19-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6355-01-P