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I think the thing that is reflexively offensive about this whole thing is that the government has taken a risk that is reasonably easy for a responsible adult to avoid (setting their couch on fire) and implemented a measure that is harmful and difficult or almost impossible to avoid. It's as if we are all made to pay for the morons who can't resist playing with matches in their couch.

It is not particularly easy to avoid setting your couch on fire. The problem with flaming couches is not just those cases where the couch is the primary contributor to the fire; it's also the cases where couches rapidly accelerate the intensity of a smaller fire, like from an electrical malfunction.

The regulation says, "the foam inside upholstered furniture be able to withstand exposure to a small flame, like a candle or cigarette lighter, for 12 seconds without igniting." so if a fire has already started and it is bigger than a small flame then this regulation isn't meant to help with that. In fact if you look around you can find http://laurasrules.org/2012/04/15/sofa-saga-part-3-interview... people talking about studies that show that in a actual fire these chemicals only slow down the burn rate by a couple seconds.

I wonder what percentage are caused by cigarettes. Especially combined with alcohol.

I'm inclined to agree, but see this comment upthread about smokers: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4494407

I'm hard put to believe I could be that careless even if I were a smoker, but apparently some people are.

Anyway, as a matter of policy, maybe as smoking continues to become less popular (here's hoping) it will seem less like a good trade to provide some very slight protection against smokers setting their furniture on fire at the cost of exposing all of us to carcinogens.

One of my coworkers had his 4 year old child set fire to his couch (he pushed and pushed until it was next to the gas stove - it's easier here in Uruguay due to smaller houses and different gas stoves).

Irresponsible, absolutely, for not supervising the kid, but it is possible.

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