Definitions of Flame Retardancy Terms
“FR” – Fire Retardant (aka Flame Retardant)
Fabric that is certified as FR has been topically treated in an immersion process with a chemical fire retardant after the fabric has been woven. All cottons and other natural fibers certified as flame retardant are FR topically treated. Some synthetic fabrics are also topically treated. Because the treatment is topical, it will wear out in time, and repeated cleanings will cause the flame retardancy to dissolve sooner. Most flameproofing chemicals are water soluble and will lso dissipate through dry cleaning. Draperies made from FR fabrics should be re-tested periodically for flame retardancy, as retreatment may be required. For this reason, “FR” flame retardancy is certified for only one year. A Certificate of Flame Retardancy is furnished to customers upon request.
“IFR” – Inherently Fire Retardant (aka Inherently Flame Retardant)
“PFR” – Permanently Fire Retardant (aka Permanently Flame Retardant)
Fabric that has been certified as “IFR” or “PFR” has been woven from fibers that are noncombustible for the life of the fabric. For this reason, the fire retardancy of “IFR” and “PFR” fabrics will last for the life of the fabric and will not dissipate after cleaning. A Certificate of Fire Retardancy is furnished upon request.
“NFR” – Not Fire Retardant
“CBFR” – Can Be Made Fire Retardant
“CNFR” – Cannot Be Made Fire Retardant
Fabric labeled “NFR” is not. If “CBFP” is indicated for a fabric, that fabric can be treated for fire retardancy. Such treatment would include topical treatment in an immersion process, making the fabric “FR.” Some synthetics can be made fire retardant. IF “CNFR” is indicated for a fabric, that fabric cannot be treated for fire retardancy and, as such, should not be used in public venues. Among the types of fabrics that cannot be made fire retardant are certain synthetic and/or metallic fabrics.
What is the NFPA 701 Test?
Fabrics used in most public spaces (including schools, churches, auditoriums, theatres, and more.) is required by law in many states and cities to be certified as flame retardant, according to standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA has various standards depending on how the fabric will be used. In the case of draperies, curtains, and similar hanging textiles, the standard that applies is NFPA 701: Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films. This test measures the flammability of a fabric when it is exposed to specific sources of ignition.
NFPA 701 (Small Scale) testing measures the ignition resistance of a fabric after it is exposed to a flame for 12 seconds. The flame, char length, and flaming residue are recorded.
The fabric will pass the test if all samples meet the following criteria:
- An after flame of less than 2.0 seconds
- A char length of less than 6.5”
- The specimen does not continue to flame after reaching the floor of the test chamber
Fabric certified as flame retardant is certified to have been tested and passed the NFPA 701 test.
More Information on Flame Retardancy
The issue of drapery fabric flame retardancy regulations is a complex one. We encourage you to continue your research by reading the specific standards and regulations yourself.
Of course Sew What? is also happy to lend our expertise as part of your drapery purchase or in regards to providing a quote. To get started just call us at (310) 639-6000 or contact us for a free quote.