A review of fire blocking technologies for soft furnishings
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Engineering Laboratory, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899-8665, USA
Fire Science Reviews 2012, 1:1 doi:10.1186/2193-0414-1-1Published: 23 April 2012
Fire barrier fabrics are expected to play an increasingly important role in complying with existing and proposed soft furnishing flammability regulations in the US. The number of commercial fire blocking technologies is large in order to accommodate the vast requirements of the consumers, manufacturers, and regulatory agencies. Generally, highloft, nonwoven fiber battings are used in residential mattress applications, whereas coated or laminated textiles are more common in institutional and upholstered furnishing applications. Successfully achieving the desired level of fire protection requires appropriate matching of the barrier fabric to the desired characteristics of the soft furnishing. Barrier material selection for soft furnishings is generally a process of trial and error due to significant measurement science gaps.
In 2009, the National Institute of Science and Technology and American Fiber Manufacturers Association held a workshop on fire blocking barrier fabrics for soft furnishings to discuss the past, present, and future state of the barrier materials in the US. This manuscript is based on knowledge obtained from the workshop and the subsequent knowledge gathered from literature and stakeholders. Several fire blocking technologies have been explored to reduce the flammability of soft furnishings by preventing or delaying direct flame impingement and heat transfer from the flames or molten polymer to the core components. While previous studies reported on use of fire barriers to comply with full-scale testing of soft furnishing items, they failed to report on assessment of barrier materials as isolated components. In addition to a few examples that demonstrate the complexity that makes a priori selection of fire barrier materials difficult, various fire blocking technologies are discussed in this report with respect to material type, fiber content, and fire blocking mechanisms. Potential test methods for characterizing barrier performance are reviewed. Future trends in fire blocking materials are also briefly described.