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4 Testing Requirements for Flammability Testing in the Curtain and Drapes Market

4 Testing Requirements for Flammability Testing in the Curtain and Drapes Market

Curtains and drapes are large pieces of fabric hung across windows for aesthetic or decorative purposes or to control the amount of natural light entering a room. Although they add beauty and ambience to a home,they can also be a fire hazard because the material that they are made out of can sometimes be highly flammable. In the United Kingdom, many facilities offer flammability testing services for upholstery, such as curtains and drapes. Our experts at IFS Laboratories also offer drapes fire testing.

Curtains and drapes in the UK can be tested for fire resistance. The purpose of doing this is to determine how susceptible the fabric is to catching fire. Determining the fire resistance of curtains and drapes can help manufacturers and consumers know if the upholstery could be dangerous to have in a home or not.

Here are the top testing requirements for flammability testing in the curtain and drapes business in the United Kingdom.

Grey Curtains In A Room

A brief background of the UK’s fire testing requirements

Prior to the year 2000, many homes and offices in the United Kingdom faced outbreaks which caused serious injuries or even death in certain cases. To prevent this from happening in the future, the government introduced the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993, and 2010). Before the Fire Safety Regulations were implemented, there had been plenty of material published that advised people how to avoid incidents of fire at home and elsewhere, but no steps had been taken by the government to reduce the incidence of such fires.

Fires at home can start when a lit cigarette is left on a sofa or when an intense heat or light source, like a lamp, is placed too close to a curtain. The outbreak of a fire at home is a serious incident that can cause grievous injuries. Curtains and drapes become fodder for domestic fires because they are large swathes of flammable material.

Fabrics that are not inherently resistant to fire can be chemically treated to be more resistant. Fabrics treated in such a way are labeled as “FR-treated,” where ‘FR’ stands for ‘Fire Retardant.’

FR Treatment is intended to reduce the incidence of fire. In the event that a fire still occurs, it is meant to reduce the rate at which the flames spread. Therefore, FR treatment can be said to prevent injuries or loss of life.

UK requirements for fire testing for curtains and drapes

According to BS5867 regulations, which were updated and re-published in 2008, there are requirements for the ignition levels of fabrics used in the making of curtains, drapes and window blinds. The regulations help all parties that are involved at any step in the supply chain of upholstery to specify the required fire safety levels of curtains and drapes that will be used in the homes of end-users.

Complying with BS5867 regulations

There are two kinds of fabrics that can be used to make curtains and drapes: those which are naturally fire-resistant and those which are not naturally fire-resistant and have to be chemically treated to resist ignition. Flammability testing services can determine the fire resistance of different fabrics.

In the BS5867 regulations, there are two standards for fire resistance. They are called Type B and Type C.

Type B standards apply to fabrics that are used in the making of curtains and drapes that are used in offices, in public buildings like museums and government buildings, and hotels. In order to test the fabric, it is placed on a metal surface and exposed to a naked flame for no more than 15 seconds. The fabric can be said to have ‘passed’ the test if the two following conditions hold true:

  • If the flame does not spread till the corners of the fabric
  • If no burning debris like ashes or soot falls from the fabric after burning

Type C regulations apply to fabrics used to make curtains and drapes that are used in hospital buildings and in other institutions that provide healthcare services. Although the procedure to test for fire resistance is exactly the same as in Type B, the difference is that for Type C regulations, the flame is applied to the fabric for 5, 15, 20, and 30 second periods. The fabric passes the fire resistance test if the following conditions hold true:

  • If the flame does not spread till the corners of the fabric
  • If no burning debris like ashes or soot falls from the fabric after burning
  • If both the flame and the afterglow from the flame does not stay for a period of more than 2.5 seconds

Unlike naturally fire-resistant fabrics, FR-treated fabrics lose their fire resistance over time. This can happen when they are washed and cleaned. After FR-treated curtains and drapes are laundered, their FR property can be compromised. In hospitals and clinics, curtains and drapes are washed on a regular basis for disinfection purposes. Therefore in fire resistance tests, the fabric is tested prior to laundering to ensure that the fire resistance quality lasts for the lifetime of the fabric.

A Bedroom With White Curtains And A Bed

We are a UKAS accredited lab offering flammability testing services in the UK

At IFS Laboratories Ltd, we are a UKAS accredited Flammability, Physical and Chemical Testing lab. Our experts offer a range of flammability testing services for upholstery importers and manufacturers. You can also reach out to us for analytical testing services, including CBD product testing, residual solvents testing, candle safety testing, terpene testing, and more. Get in touch with us on our website to learn more about us and our services. You can also call us at +44 (0) 161 50 50 650 or send us an email at info@ifs-labs.com.