The furniture industry yesterday blasted proposed federal government standards that would make uphol-people who spoke at the emotionstered furniture fire-resistant as "unnecessary, distorted, an infringement on the comsumer's freedom of choice, and a heavey burden on craftsmanship and small business."
Then the industry got mad.
"I am asked to remain clam when I am terrified at what might happen to my company and my industry," Franklin S. Judson, president of Stroheim & Romann, a national decorative fabric distributor, told hearings of the Con-Judson was one of several industry people who spoke at the emotion-filled hearings. He claimed that if the proposed regulations are passed, "this standard will eliminate approximately 65 percent of our fabrics from the marketplace," a situation that he said would close down his 113-year-old family business.
The American Textile Manufacturers Institute, an industry group, claimed that the standard would ban some 50 percent of today's "most popular fabrics: natural cotton, linen and rayon (prints, velvets, Haitian-type cottons and jacquards) (and) raise the cost of upholstered furniture unncessarily and to unreasonable levels."
The CPSC has been working on a fire standard for upholstered furniture for six years, and has concentrated on trying to design a standard that would prevent a fallen cigarette from igniting upholstery.
The CPSC has estimated that, with annual testing, the standard could cost the industry $57 to $87 million a year, resulting in a 2 to 3 percent increase in the wholesale price of furniture and added costs to the comsumer of $144 million.
The industry, however, thinks the cost is closer to $1.3 billion a year, or $100 on a $500 sofa. And, according to ATMI official Arnold Doblin, "They are going to put us in a position where our customers are going to be unhappy with our product. They are putting a feature - flammability - at the head of a list of considerations when buying furniture that the consumer has not even asked for."
Dobin claimed that consuers are much more concerned with price, color, cleanability and other factors.
"There will always be a group of people who drive too fast, drink too rette, and how well it burns on uploaded guns and smoke too much," said Judson during his testimony. "But we don't have to deprive millions of healthy, responsible Americans of what they want to protect this groupfrom themselves."
Judson was particularly incensed that the standard was based on a cigahostery.
CPSC figures indicate that 800 people a year die from fires caused by cigarettes igniting furniture.
"Your staff has identified the cigarette as the culprit, the source of ignition and their entire flammability test is based on this fact," Judson told the CPSC.
Pointing out that he believes the cigarette industry itself enjoys an "amazing and mysterious immunity . . . from government regulation," Judson asked, "Why make the fabric industry and the furniture industry the scapegoat just because the cigarette cannot be regulated?"