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Our Guide to Flame-Retardant Fabric - What to Know

If you want to construct a piece of clothing that is resistant to fires, you would need to procure flame-retardant fabric. This type of fabric is uncommon and is usually only found in protective clothing used by people working in the oil and gas industry, as well as contractors and service technicians.

Since this fabric is different from the others that most people have been accustomed to wearing or working with, there may be some confusion as to what it is. Here is a beginner's guide to understanding flame-retardant fabric.

What is a flame-retardant fabric?

Not to be confused with flame-resistant fabric, flame-retardant fabric is a type of fabric that, when it's set fire to, would not burn quickly or transfer to other things in the room. It is made from materials that have been chemically treated to be slow-burning or self-extinguishing when exposed to an open flame. On the other hand, flame-resistant fabric is made from non-flammable fibers that are inherently resistant to flames and embers. 

Characteristics of flame-retardant fabric

  • Can come in a variety of colours
  • Fabric usually weighs up to 350 gsm
  • Widths are usually up to 300 cm
  • Finish can either be shiny or matte

Flame-retardant terminology

When dealing with flame-retardant fabric, you would come across the following terminology. Here is an explanation of each:

  • Inherently Flame Retardant (IFR) – This refers to fabrics that are woven with naturally flame-resistant fibres that meet fire standards without chemical treatment.
  • Durable Flame Retardant (DFR) – This means the fabric has been crafted with a flame-retardant finish and can undergo several cleanings before it needs to be retreated to meet fire standards.
  • Non-Durable Flame Retardant (NDFR) – These are fabrics that have been treated to take longer to ignite or be affected by the fire. They are usually dry clean only. When they come in contact with liquid, they will need to be treated again to meet flammability requirements.
  • Cannot Be Made Fire Retardant (CNFR) – This is a type of fabric that can't be treated to conform with fire standards. Metallic and certain synthetic fabrics are examples of CNFR.

How flame-retardant fabric is made

Flame-retardant fabric can be made in two ways. You either have to take regular fabric and chemically treat it or create a fabric to be specifically flame-retardant or IFR. The fibres used to create IFR are permanently flame-retardant, meaning the chemical structure of the polyester fibre cannot be affected by external elements. It's a better solution to the risk of fire compared to fabric that has been coated with flame protection.

When to use flame-retardant fabric

Flame-retardant fabric is commonly used in clothing for professions that are at risk of fire and embers. These include soldiers, firefighters, electric technicians, and construction workers. Aside from clothing or uniform, the flame-retardant fabric can also be used in furnishing fabrics, home furniture, and stages, clubs, theatres, and hospitals. 

Flame-retardant fabric can be useful if you're going to make items that will be exposed to fire. If you’re looking for flame-retardant curtains in the UK, get in touch with us today! We’re happy to help.

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