The United States has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world. There are 14.9 fire related deaths per
million persons in the United States of America. Something needs to be done in order to lower the number of people that die from home fires.
Representative Shelley Moore Capito understood this important issue and on April 28, 2004 Representative Capito introduced the
American Home Fire Safety (AHFS) Act H. R. 4233. On May 6, 2004, the AHFS Act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and
Consumer Protection. If passed, the AHFS Act will help to put together the changes needed to lower the yearly number of home fires and deaths in
the United States of America. This may also encourage Governments in other countries to do the same.
After reading the information about the American Home Fire Safety Act, National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM),
Burn Survivors Throughout The World, Inc. (BSTTW), and The Hurting Angels asks you to speak with your
family members and friends about the AHFS Act. If you feel that the AHFS Act is a needed change, we ask you to write a letter to your Representative
and Senator requesting that they vote to accept the American Home Fire Safety Act H.R. 4233. By working together we all can
get the AHFS Act passed. The result will be saving many lives each and every year.
Important Reasons For The American Home Fire Safety Act
- "Residential fires cause 85% of all fire
deaths; they kill approximately 3,700 people each year, 1000 of which are children 14 and younger. The number of residential fire deaths
annually is 20% higher than the entire death toll of the September 11th attacks. Unfortunately, they don't attract the same attention because
they tend to occur in smaller numbers over a longer timeframe.
- About 100 firefighters are killed each year in duty-related accidents.
- Approximately 100 firefighters are killed each year in duty-related accidents.
- 75 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences.
- Senior citizens over 70 and children under 5 are at the greatest risk of dying in a fire; children
under the age of 10 accounted for 17 percent of fire-related deaths in 1996.
- Fires cause $3.5 billion in residential property loss each year.
- "Injuries caused by fire are often the worst survivable injuries imaginable and can include extremely
painful burns covering large areas of the body. Even when healed, these injuries can handicap and disfigure the survivor for life, both physically
- The main factors contributing to the chance of a fire and
its intensity are human behavior, ignition material and fuel sources allowing for the fire to spread. Public education can address some fire safety
issues but will not in itself suffice to
remedy the problem of household fires. Implementing effective mandatory fire safety standards for ignition sources
(such candles) and fuel sources (such as upholstered furniture, mattresses and bedding) can significantly reduce the number of deaths and injuries
caused by fires in the home.
- "Congress has given the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (the CPSC) the authority it
needs to ensure that most products sold for use in the home do not pose an unreasonable threat of fire. Yet, we continue to see far too many fires involving
upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedding, and candles. On average, two Americans die each day in fires involving
these products*. Currently, there are no mandatory national fire safety standards in effect for these
- "A bi-partisan coalition of prominent Senators has introduced Senate Bill
1798 -- the American Home Fire Safety Act (AHFSA). Led by both South Carolina Senators - Democrat Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, and Republican Lindsay Graham
-- the legislation will require the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to enforce specific fire safety standards for
upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedding and candles. Upon introduction, the bill was co-sponsored by Senators Olympia Snowe, R-ME; John Breaux, D-LA;
Byron Dorgan, D-ND; Barbara Boxer, D-CA; Jack Reed, D-RI; and Lincoln Chafee, R-RI.
- "Burn Survivors Throughout The World, Inc., The Hurting
Angels, National Fire Service Organizations such as the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), as well as state organizations have
endorsed the bill.
- "The bill will be introduced in the House shortly and
we would like you to be an original co-sponsor of this significant piece of legislation.
- The AHFS Act is a comprehensive step
toward saving lives. The AHFS Act requires the Consumer Products Safety Commission to implement the following standards
for mattresses, upholstered furniture, candles and bedding:
1. Bedding: Requires pillows and comforters to resist burning
through from the top of the pillow and/or comforter to the bottom of the pillow and/or comforter.
2. Candles: Establishes that a candle is allowed a maximum flame
height of 3 inches (except outdoor candles); candles must extinguish on their own; and the candles must be produced in a way that they will not
not tip over on a 10 percent incline. Certain religious candles will be excluded from this law.
3. Mattresses: Requires an ignited mattress to not release more
than 150 kilowatts of heat for 60 minutes. This should help to control the room being ignited due to a mattress fires. Currently the average
mattress generates 1,000 to 2,000 kilowatts peak heat release. That is twice the heat required to ignite an entire room.
4. Upholstered Furniture: Establishes higher standards for flame
resistance of polyester fiber and other synthetic fillings used in furniture; it requires the testing of furniture upholstery in the combinations
used to build furniture, rather than testing each material separately.
*There is a national flammability standard for mattresses, which requires the product resist ignition from a smoldering-type
fire caused by a cigarette but it DOES NOT require that mattresses, box springs and futons sold to consumers provide protection against an open flame.
Candles, lighters and matches are common sources of open flames that set mattresses on fire.