February 16, 2006

Watchdog passes new mattress flame standard

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission on Thursday voted to require mattresses to be more
fire-resistant, a measure it said could save hundreds of lives
and prevent more than 1,300 injuries each year.

The new standard is the safety agency's first major rule in
terms of having more than $100 million of annual impact on the
economy and financial benefit to consumers, a spokeswoman said.

By a 3-0 vote, commissioners at the agency agreed that
mattresses should be able to resist being engulfed in flames
for at least 30 minutes when exposed to an ignition source like
a cigarette lighter or candle.

Under the previous 30-year-old federal standard, mattresses
had to resist a smoldering cigarette, but could often be
engulfed in flames in less than five minutes, said CPSC
spokeswoman Julie Vallese.

"What the rule proposes to do is limit the spread and
intensity of a mattress fire, which would give people more time
to escape from their homes," Vallese said.

She said the majority of manufacturers are in support of
the new standard and believe they can be compliant by the July
2007 deadline.

Top mattress manufacturers include Select Comfort Corp.,
Tempur-Pedic International Inc., and Sealy Corp., which has
filed for a $402.5 million initial public offering.

California passed a similar mattress-flammability standard
last year, and the federal rule reflects the industry's push
for a nationwide standard.

The safety commission said the national standard could save
as many as 270 lives each year and prevent as many as 1,330
injuries by reducing the severity of mattress fires.