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How to Test Fire Resistant Fabric?

2023-11-13 13:30

There are different methods to test the fire resistance of fabrics, depending on the standard being followed and the intended use of the fabric. However, here are some general steps that may be included in a fire-resistant fabric test:

1. Sample preparation: Cut the fabric into standard sizes and prepare it according to the instructions of the test method being used.

2. Test chamber setup: Set up the appropriate test chamber that meets the test requirements. This may include controlled temperature and humidity, and a source of ignition.

3. Ignition: Apply a source of ignition, such as a small flame to the fabric sample.

4. Flame propagation: Observe how the flame propagates across the fabric surface and how long it takes to extinguish.

5. Results analysis: Examine the test results and use them to determine if the fabric meets the minimum standard requirements for flame resistance.

Fire resistant fabric test.jpg

Some specific fire-resistance tests that may be conducted include the Single Burn Test (ASTM D 3801), the California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117), and the NFPA 701 test. These tests may differ in the type and duration of flame exposure, the number of fabric samples required, and the criteria for pass/fail. 

It is important to note that fire-resistant fabric tests should be conducted by certified labs or third-party testing agencies to ensure accurate and impartial results.

These various factors can be categorized as follows:

  1. Safety Factors – Such as flame resistance, thermal protection, arc flash protection, metal splash.
  2. Resilience Factors – Durability, Abrasion resistance, shrinkage, breaking point.
  3. Comfort Factors – Thermal comfort, breathability, functional fit, freedom of motion etc.

Laboratory performance tests cater to the first two of these sets of factors i.e. safety and resilience.

Test Methods for Fire Resistant Fabric:

Thermal Protective Performance Test on Fabric Sample including Multiple Layers:
The thermal Protective Performance test is used to measure and determine the exposure time and thermal dose (TPP rating) to a fabric in an event of second degree burn injury. A heat flux of 83kw/m2 is applied to the outer surface of the fabric which causes a second-degree burn. The test collects data during this exposure to determine the amount of heat energy transmitted through the fabric via a sensor positioned at the innermost surface of the fabric sample.

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