The issue of flame retardancy for stage curtains, trade show drapes, and other hanging drapery is one that I am sure is confusing to many people.  I have been educating myself on this subject for a number of years, and I still feel as if I have just scratched the surface.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a novice trying to figure it all out, so I thought I’d pass along a little of what I have learned .  There are many different topics related to flame retardancy, so I’ll start with the basics and cover more topics in later posts.

DEFINITIONS OF FLAME RETARDANCY TERMS

FR (Flame Retardant):  Fabric has been topically treated with a flame retardant chemical, which is water-soluble and will be removed by laundering.  Even without laundering, the chemical will dissipate over time, requiring that the drapery be re-treated.  Cottons, other natural fiber fabrics, and some synthetic fabrics are topically treated.

DFR (Durably Flame Retardant): Fibers have been manufactured with a flame retardant process prior to being woven into fabric.  As a result, the fabric is typically flame retardant for the life of the fabric.  This is the case for many polyester fabrics (though not all).

PFR / IFR (Permanently Flame Retardant):  The fibers themselves are non-combustible.  Therefore the woven fabric is considered flame retardant for the life of the fabric.  This is the case for most Avora™ polyesters, Trevira™ polyesters, some other polyesters, and some other synthetic fabrics.

***DFR, PFR, and IFR are often used interchangeably, because the effect is the same – all are considered flame retardant for the life of the fabric.

CBFP / CBFR (Can be Flameproofed / Flame Retarded): The fabric is not flame retardant, but can be topically treated with a chemical to make it flame retardant (FR).  This might include a cotton fabric that is usually sold as NFR but can be treated by a registered flame retardancy applicator facility.

CNFR (Cannot be Flame Retarded):  The fabric is not flame retardant and cannot be topically treated with a chemical for flame retardancy.  This includes most fabrics that have metal in the weave.  Acetate is another fabric that usually cannot be flame proofed.

If you’d like further details on these terms, you can find it here.

Questions on Flame Retardancy Outside the US? See our whitepaper, “Flame Retardancy Regulations Throughout the World