Fire Retardant Fabrics: What to Know

Fire Retardant Fabrics: What to Know

Posted by Craig Zola on Sep 22, 2014 2:46:55 PM

fire_burning_in_room_-resized-600The first thing you should know about fire retardant fabrics is that there are two main types: Inherently or Chemically Treated.

Let’s take a look at inherently fire resistant fabrics. Before we get started, it’s important to note that no fabric is actually fireproof; given enough time, they will burn. That being said, there are some fabrics out there that resist fire more than others. For example, we all know that cotton burns easily and rapidly. However, fabrics like wool and Kevlar resist flames inherently because of the structure of the fiber. A tightly woven wool fabric will take longer to burn than cotton or linen.   

Inherently fire retardant fabrics are excellent for use in your home, especially for things like curtains and drapes. (This is one way to protect your home and your family from not only fire, but chemically treated materials).

These fabrics can also be used in tents, health care fabrics, drapes, tarps, military applications, awnings, banners, and signs.

Finding the right manufacturer for your fire retardant project/product is essential; especially when considering chemically treated fire retardant fabrics. That’s why Herculite Inc. offers customers a variety of products that are not only fire retardant, but meets the National Fire Protection Association standards.

The NFPA is the world’s leading advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety, NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards

Herculite’s awning composite textile, the Excel M Series, is an excellent example of an inherently flame [C1] retardant fabric (PVC composite) that has practical uses. The Excel M Series features both flexibility and core fabric stability. The material is 100 percent waterproof, flame retardant to commercial standards, heat and RF sealable, and coated with Herculite’s new “M Series” Fluoropolymer for ultraviolet resistance.

So what are chemically treated fire retardant fabrics? Well, they are fabrics that have been coated with a fire resistant chemical.

Today, there are more than 175 different types of flame retardants, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These types of chemicals are divided into classes including: brominated, chlorinated, phosphorus-containing, nitrogen-containing, and inorganic flame retardants.  Flame retardant chemicals are also known as PBDE’s or polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Keep in mind that PBDEs are a chemical and you might have questions about its safety. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s Web site for more information at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=900&tid=183

Should you buy a treated fabric, remember, as you wash it and use it the chemical starts to wear down. Inherently fire retardant fabrics don’t suffer from this issue.  You may also consider that adding a FR treatment to a fabric may void the manufacturers warranty.

So, when considering buying a flame retardant fabric, whether inherently or chemicially treated, remember to choose the right manufacturer – like Herculite Inc. – who understands the importance of quality and safety.

Now that you know a little bit more about flame retardant fabrics, download our free guide, "Five Factors to Consider When Determining Awning Fabric Quality"

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Topics: Mattress Fires, Flame Resistant Textiles