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HFIA & AFHA Team Up To Defeat Retail Sprinkler Regulation

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The Home Furnishings Independents Association (HFIA) and its members recently achieved a major victory that will save retailers and their consumers a vast amount of money.  Numerous HFIA members from Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Indiana, along with a consultant from the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), testified in person and in writing against a proposed code recommendation that would have mandated that retail buildings, showing or warehousing upholstery/mattresses, would have to add sprinkler systems even if they had been grandfathered by their local code agencies.  The hearings lasted two days and HFIA’s compelling testimony was vital in preventing the potential code change.

HFIA President Mary Frye knows the additional expense would have been a harsh burden on retailers.  "Several members I spoke to said that having to add a sprinkler system to their buildings would potentially put them out of business," Frye said.

“This is outstanding news and a huge accomplishment for all retailers, especially those of us in historic buildings,” said Carol Johnson of Johnson Furniture Co.

Andy Counts, CEO of the AHFA, said although he believes the safety of these properties a top priority, installing sprinkler systems retroactively is an expensive investment.

“Part of our successful argument [against sprinkler systems] was that retailers have a tremendously vested interest in their buildings, contents and communities being safe and so there are policies and procedures to ensure that they are,” Counts said.  To ensure the community's safety, retailers currently implement effective practices such as inspections by fire officials so they know about the layout of buildings, no smoking policies, proper trash disposal and building inspections by store personnel to spot potential problems. In addition, the industry supported a recent code change that requires sprinklers in all future retail establishments. “Nonetheless, with these effective safety measures in play, we will likely see this effort again next year and the year after that,” Counts said in regards to the effort to require sprinkler systems in existing retail stores. 

 AFHA is the world's largest and most influential trade organization serving the home furnishings industry.  It promotes industry unity and access capable of impacting consumers while also working to influence important issues, such as fire code legislation.   Its purpose is to deliver targeted programs and services addressing the three broad common interests of unity, access and influence shared by all member companies.

The HFIA is the voice for independent-thinking home furnishing professionals.  It strives to offer business solutions to its members to operate more efficiently, and in return, more profitably.  As demonstrated in this recent achievement, monitoring potential code changes is one way the HFIA constantly strives to save its members money.

For more information, please contact Mary Frye at 800.942.HOME (4663) or mary@hfia.com

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