The Two Types Of Fire Resistant Materials You Should Know About
Fire retardant materials are materials that slow the spread of flames. There aren’t any materials that are fireproof, however, there are some fabrics that are more resistant to fire than others.
Due to the structure of the fiber, cotton burns easily, whereas materials like wool resist flames. The tighter the fabric, the longer it will take to burn.
Inherently Fire Retardant Materials
Flame-resistant fabrics or inherently fire retardant materials are materials that do not catch fire easily. The thing that makes these types of materials flame resistant is that flame resistance is built into the chemical makeup of the fabric.
Inherently fire retardant materials are designed to prevent or slow the spread of fire. One additional property that these fabrics have is that they do not drip or melt when close to the fire, and they are often self-extinguishing.
Flame-resistant fabrics are usually not made from 100 percent fire retardant material. This means that the materials will burn but at a much slower rate. However, inherently FR materials will remain flame resistant with proper care, despite washing, wear and tear, and the general passage of time.
Chemically Treated Materials
The difference between inherently fire retardant materials and chemically treated materials is that they start as inherently flammable fabric and then are treated with chemicals.
These chemicals allow the materials to be slow-burning and/or self-extinguishing when exposed to an open flame.
It is possible to wash the chemicals out of chemically treated materials. However, if you take care of the fabric, it can last for a long time. Some fabrics are naturally more resistant to flames than others. Tightly woven wool, for example, takes longer to burn than cotton.
Inherently fire retardant fabrics and chemically treated materials are useful for a variety of applications. For example, inherently fire-resistant fabrics can be used in homes for curtains and drapes.
Additional applications include tents, health care fabrics, drapes, tarps, military applications, awnings, banners, and signs.
Chemically treated materials are also useful for a variety of applications. Applications for chemically treated materials include:
Pros and Cons
The goal of inherently fire retardant fabrics and chemically treated fabrics is to slow the spread of flames. However, each type of material comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantages of inherent FR fabrics include:
Increased protection from undesired thermal effects
Long service life
Properties of FR fabric will never wash out
The most noteworthy disadvantages of inherent FR fabrics include:
The more expensive upfront cost
Less comfortable other types of treated fabrics
Some inherent FR fabrics are afforded the term due to marketing motives rather than science and metrics relating to performance.
Here are some of the most notable advantages of treated FR fabrics:
Less expensive than most inherent FR fabrics
As opposed to combusting when exposed to a heat source, chemically treated FR fabrics can char similarly to inherent fabrics.
Most treated fabrics are capable of extinguishing a flame when the heat source is removed.
The biggest disadvantages of treated fabrics include:
Over time, some treated fabrics will lose their protective qualities
Some treated fabrics produce harmful gases
Some fabrics, cotton blends, in particular, lose their protective qualities over time, even proper laundering and care.
There is no way to determine whether or not the flame-resistant capabilities have diminished upon visual contact
There are different types of fire retardant materials. Chemically treated fire-retardant materials are chemically treated in such a way that allows for slow-burning.
Inherently Fire Retardant materials have chemicals within the fabric that resist flames. The type of fire retardant material that one uses depends on the application. Just as there are advantages to using either material, there are disadvantages as well.
Reef Industries, Inc. offers numerous fire retardant materials to meet critical equipment and work areas' environmental compliance or safety requirements. Reef Industries can meet your requirements from lightweight to heavy-duty products with a fire-retardant cover material specifically tailored to your application. All fire retardant covers are fire rated and pass NFPA 701 Large Scale "Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame-Resistant Textiles and Films," Most have Class I / Class A Flame Spread rating per UBC-42 and ASTM E-84.