Textile products can be made flame resistant by using fibers that are inherently flame resistant or by application of a flame resistant finish. Modacrylic fibers offer adequate flame resistance at a moderate cost and have some use in carpets, curtains, and children’s sleepwear. Many other synthetic fibers shrink from ignition flames, providing some protection. Untreated polyester and nylon, for example, will pass the test for children’s sleepwear based on this characteristic.
The more thermally stable materials such as asbestos, glass fiber, the aramids, PBI, and PBO could be called fireproof substances that will not burn. Glass fiber has many industrial uses and may be used to a limited extent in household textile products such as window shades or lamp shades. Thermally stable synthetic fibers have not been developed for general use but rather are intended for specialized protective clothing for industrial and military uses. Not only are they expensive, but they also lack the aesthetic features that would make them useful in consumer products.
For fibers that are not flame resistant, a flame-retardant treatment can be applied. Durable finishes for cotton and cotton blend fabrics contain phosphorus which reacts chemically with the fibers and inhibits the production of compounds that fuel the flame. Commercial flame-retardant finishes are Pyrovatex, Proban, and Pyron, the latter produced by Ciba Chemicals.
Finishes for synthetic fibers have bromine that quenches the flame by reducing the generation of flammable gases. Tris-2, 3- dibromopropyl phosphate (TRIS) was used for several years to impart flame resistance to nylon and polyester, but was suspected of causing cancer in laboratory animals. Since its removal from the market, and modifications in the test procedure for children’s sleepwear, nylon and polyester are not usually finished with a flame-retardant treatment.
A particular problem in textile flammability is the burning of cotton/polyester blends. Since polyester is less flammable than cotton, one would expect blended fabrics to be less hazardous than all cotton fabrics. This is unfortunately not the case, because the char left as the cotton burns serves to hold the melting and dripping polyester in the flame. This is referred to as a “scaffolding” effect that prevents the polyester from dripping away, as it would do in a 100 percent polyester fabric.
The polyester remains in the flame and contributes to the burning. Wool is inherently moderately resistant to burning and provides some protection in apparel and interior furnishings. For more stringent uses such as airplane seats, however, wool is given a flame-retardant treatment. A common finish for wool is Zirpro. performance standards that materials are required to meet are set forth in the CFR. These tests described above usually have a single pass/fail criterion. A wide variety of additional tests for flammability can be conducted to provide information on burning behavior and effectiveness of finishes.
Many of these methods require test samples of considerable size or even whole garments. DuPont, Eastman Kodak, and the University of Minnesota have developed thermal testing manikins with heat sensors located in various parts of the figure. Tests performed using these figures can determine not only the combustibility of the fabric being tested but also the location of hot spots and can furnish data about the transfer of heat. They can also assess effects of fabric layers such as a cotton dress worn over a nylon slip.
There are tests for carpets other than the pill test required by the federal standard. The Flooring Radiant Panel Test is said to simulate conditions of interior fires more effectively than other carpet tests. As a result, it is likely to be used by governmental and other regulatory agencies that require the more extensive product evaluation that carpeting installed in hospitals and facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs must meet.
An area of considerable interest in flammability testing of interiors is computer simulation or virtual tests to determine the hazards of real-life situations. For example, data on the furnishings in a prototype room can be used to predict the results of a fire (Gorman 1994). More realistic measures of fire hazards can be obtained and used in such predictive models.
These measures, including total heat release, rate of heat release, and toxic gases evolved, are the real dangers from fires involving textiles. resin holds yarns together at the points where the yarns interlace. Resin antis lip finishes are durable. Other antislip finishes can be created by coating silica compounds on fabrics. However, these finishes are only temporary.-->