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CPSC Decides FY 1994 Priorities

Release Date: May 13, 1992

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today voted unanimously to select one priority project for fiscal year (FY) 1994, which begins on October 1, 1993. The project, ""Home Electrical System Fires,"" addresses electrical fires in older homes. Priority projects are selected according to factors recommended by Congressional committees and several criteria established by Commission regulations. By Commission procedures, priority projects must be identified before the remainder of the agency's FY 1994 budget can be developed.

The Commission selected the project on electrical fires in older homes because data show a disproportionately high frequency of electrical-system fires in homes more than 40 years old. Many of these fires occur in homes of consumers who are in the lower socio-economic bracket. About one-third of homes in the U.S. are more than 40 years old. Nearly 29 million of these older residences are occupied by families or individuals. The Home Electrical System Fires project seeks to reduce the number of electrical fires by targeting homes most in need of rehabilitation; developing economical electrical remodeling codes to correct hazards; developing rewiring cost data and evaluating safety device systems such as whole-house ground-fault protection as a basic element of fire prevention. The Commission estimates that in 1989 there were about 42,500 fires involving the home electrical system, resulting in 480 deaths, 1,340 injuries, and $539 million in property losses. The total annual cost to society was approximately $1.5 billion.

The Commission selects priority projects on the basis of seven criteria: frequency and severity of injuries; causality of injuries; likelihood of future injuries or chronic illness; cost and benefit of CPSC action; unforeseen nature of the risk; vulnerability of the population at risk; and probability of exposure to the hazard. In addition, Congressional committees recommend that the Commission limit the number of priority projects and choose only projects that have specific objectives and schedules.

The CPSC selected this priority project as part of its mission to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. The Commission's objective is to reduce the estimated 28.5 million injuries and 21,600 deaths associated each year with the 15,000 different types of consumer products within CPSC's jurisdiction.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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