01 Nov How do flame retardants work?
How do flame retardants work?
We are often asked about claims and statements concerning flame retardants that are based on a lack of understanding.
After the incident shown in (FRETWORK Newsletter No. 34) we decided to try and demonstrate just how this happened. The video below, based on photos of the stages in a fire test, shows the effect of the precise test conditions used to produce the result shown in the Newsletter. CLICK on the Arrow below the pictures to see the test unfold.
It is quite clear in the early stages that there is little difference between the textiles. In a real fire scenario it must be remembered that without someone there to put out the fire it will develop and a small ignition source will become a very large ignition source unless you use flame retardants to intervene. It is only when the ignition source is removed that the true difference becomes abundantly clear. The flame retardant textile on the left may look boringly inactive but that is precisely what it is supposed to do. The textile without flame retardants continues to accelerate and develop life into a much more serious and threatening fire. On the way it will release huge amounts of smoke and toxic fumes, quickly creating life threatening circumstances. It will continue to burn as much fuel as it can until it runs out of the vital ingredients (see Fire Triangle ).
Firemen can only approach such conditions provided they are adequately protected from the smoke and toxic fumes.
From this we can say that the flame retardants are applied and tested according to very precise conditions of performance. The most significant factor about the pink cushion and this test is that the flame retardants work when no one is there to intervene. When real fires develop they create a huge amount of smoke and toxic fumes that are recognised as the main risk to life.