Fire Retardant vs Non Fire Retardant
Americover offers fire retardant films, but as a consumer what does that mean for you? Below are a couple demonstration videos of a professional burn test on a fire retardant and a non fire retardant material.
What Exactly Is Fire Retardant?
You may often hear the terms “fire retardant” or “fire resistant” when working on a project, however, they do not necessarily mean the same thing. In fact, most building codes recognize that there is no such thing as an entirely “fire proof” building. Every material, at some point or another, will burn or melt. However, there are different degrees of fire resistance that certain materials can obtain in order to minimize potential damage during a fire event.
Typically, if a fire resistant material is directly exposed to a flame, static, or extreme heat, it will not drip or melt as a result. A retardant material, on the other hand, is one that is treated with special additives to self-extinguish after the flame source has been removed or extinguished, slowing the spread of a fire.
The following video is a burn test conducted in a lab on a Fire Retardant Material.
This video is a burn test conducted in a lab on a NON-Fire Retardant Material.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT FIRE RETARDANT POLYETHYLENE
Americover’s® Fire Retardant Polyethylene sheeting products are tested against various Fire Retardant standards using independent certified testing facilities. Each production run is then produced using the same formulation as that used to produce the material originally supplied for testing, and certified to pass the given standard(s).
Fire retardant plastic sheeting products are not “fire proof.” In fact, fire proof is a tough thing to define, since virtually any material will burn, melt, or ignite at some temperature. Fire retardant plastic sheeting products may burn, especially under certain circumstances, yet still pass some of the most stringent FR standards used in the building and aeronautics industry today.
Regular (non fire retardant) polyethylene sheeting products burn very hot, and very quickly and can significantly add a fuel source to a fire. When our plastic sheeting is formulated to be fire retardant, the additives used are designed to interrupt the natural combustion process. The idea is to create fire retardant sheeting that loses its ability to contribute as a significant fuel source for a fire. Even in the cases where one may be able to ignite the film and watch it burn, the combustion rate and heat range will be significantly less than similar polyethylene sheeting without FR additives under the same conditions.
Limits exist as to the percentage of FR we can successfully add to any polyethylene formulation. Our FR additives are part of the film, not something that is applied topically onto the film after production. Also, the FR additive will dissipate over time. That is why we do not warranty the FR property for film that is over 1 year old.
Occasionally, people try to ignite fire retardant products in the field using methods that are not scientific in nature, and sometimes they burn more than the person feels is ok. NFPA 701 testing is conducted under specific conditions in very controlled environments within certified laboratories (for maximum quality assurance.) Films are generally conditioned at a certain relative humidity and temperature for a designated period of time, for example. Flames are applied at exact heights for specified periods of time. The technicians take careful measurements of charred areas and afterburn, and observation of flaming drips, smoke developed, flame spread, and many other items depending on the test criteria. All circumstances surrounding the test are controlled, therefore all materials are fairly compared.
The NFPA 701 2004 Test 1 Standard is used for many industries, and the results are widely accepted by fire marshals. Americover® Inc recommends all customers contact your local fire authorities for the appropriate FR standards for your application, and for your Fire Marshal’s approval of any products you plan to use.
Please contact Americover® Inc. with any questions or requests.