California Repeals Commercial Furniture Open Flame Fire Test

February 17 • 2019

Fire fighters across the United States and Canada will be better protected against toxic flame retardants thanks to a major policy change by the state of California.

Effective January 22, 2019, California has repealed a furniture flammability test that for years had allowed for the widespread use of cancer-causing flame retardants. The Flammability Test Procedure for Seating Furniture for Use in Public Occupancies (Technical Bulletin 133) was an open flame test for upholstered furniture, which generally required the use of flame-retardant chemicals.

When flame retardants burn, they create furans and dioxins that have been scientifically linked to occupational cancers. What’s more, research has shown these fire retardants do very little to stop fires.

The new rule means these chemicals are no longer required to be used in commercial upholstered furniture and, therefore, will likely be phased out over time. The change also is seen as likely precedent setting as other states have historically looked to California as a leader in chemical use policies.

The announcement marks a major victory for fire fighters and the culmination of years of intensive lobbying from the California Professional Firefighters (CPF), environmental advocacy groups and furniture industry groups.

The fight to end toxic flame retardants in furniture continues state by state and city by city.  The IAFF remains committed to sound public policy that removes toxic chemicals from the hazardous environments that our members encounter on a daily basis.