|By George P. Hassett|
Governor Deval Patrick this week signed into law a bill banning the commercial use and sale of a wood floor finishing product linked to a deadly 2004 Somerville home fire.
State Senator Pat Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, sponsored the bill in response to a string of home fires caused by the extremely flammable finishing product.
In 2004, two floor sanders were killed and two of their co-workers burned in a fire that ripped through a Somerville home. The fire was believed to have been caused by the highly flammable lacquer sealer used in floor refinishing.
Lacquer sealer can burst into flames if a light switch is turned on or sunlight falls on a recently sealed floor.
Marcy Goldstein Gelb, a Somerville resident who is executive director of Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, convened a Floor Finishing Safety Task Force of industry, labor and community representatives. The Task Force investigated the deaths and dozens of other fires that had destroyed homes in the state and concluded that lacquer sealer was extremely dangerous and unnecessary.
The Task Force proposed legislation to ban lacquer sealer - a floor finishing product that can burst into flames at the slightest trigger. Jehlen and Rep. Martin Walsh filed the bill, which is now law.
"This groundbreaking law will save lives and end floor finishing fires that have caused so much pain and destruction," said Goldstein-Gelb.