Fire protection standards

Fire protection standards

Fire protection standards for textile in public buildings

Whenever cloth, fabrics or textiles are used in public buildings or at public events it is mandatory in Germany to provide the flame retardant certificate. What are the requirements that have to be met – and what are international standards?

In Germany the compliance with fire protection standards has been stipulated by the legislative bodies in §19 of the building regulations, in the accommodation ordinance and state-specific ordinances for public gatherings. These regulations are applicable in all areas with official opening hours for the public, e.g.

- In public buildings
- In theaters, opera houses or cabaret shows
- In schools, colleges, universities or training centres
- In hotels and restaurants
- In administrative offices, public libraries and institutions
- In exhibition halls and show rooms
- In event tents

It is stipulated in current requirements of German technical regulations that decoration materials used by exhibitors, event organizers, stand construction companies and service companies have to be flame retardant in compliance with DIN 4102 or DIN EN 13501-1. These technical regulations are usually part of the contract, and the contract parties are liable for compliance. Decoration materials include wall coverings, room partitions, curtains, displays, textile awnings, banners, flags and the like.

What means “flame retardant”?

In accordance with DIN 4102-1 “flame retardant” for building material class 1 refers to basically flammable products that are self-extinguishing – they do not continue burning. In standard DIN 4102-1 building materials and components are classified subject to their behaviour in fire and requires proof for textiles and cloth. In compliance with B 1 criteria the tested fabric has to show a mean remaining length of more than 15 cm after fire risk testing, and must remain under the mean flue gas temperature of 200 degrees Celsius. Certified testing institutes are testing and classifying products subject to current standards, including IBENA fabrics.

European fire protection standards for textiles in public building

It is the objective of the European standard DIN EN 13501-1 to unify national standards. The European classification for building material’s behaviour in fire covers additional parameters, such as smoke development and burning droplets. Building materials which are flame retardant have to meet at least the requirements of class C s3 d2 (s = smoke and d = droplets). The maximum level in this class is B-s1 d0; the material must not develop smoke or burning droplets. The classification is based on the so-called radiant-panel-test (radiation test). The samples are heated by heat radiator and the edges are ignited repeatedly by a pilot flame. Spreading and duration of flames as well as dropping sample parts determine the test result.

In France, Luxembourg and Belgium a test called “Brûleur Électrique” is carried out, subject to the standard NFP 92503 M1. The test result of M1 has an even higher value than the German B1 certification, meaning it is harder to meet the M1 then the B1 requirements. The majority of textiles and fabrics made by IBENA comply with this certification. The mode of test procedure is almost equivalent to the European test. The material is arranged at an angle of 30° to the radiator and ignited by gas-flame. The difference is that the flame is directed to the fabric surface rather than to the edges. The material is to burn for five seconds only, has to keep its original size, and nothing must drop. Only then it will be certified as M1, which is highly valued worldwide.

International fire protection standards

The European standard has been established to replace the numerous national standards of its member states. Time will tell whether the standard will succeed in being acknowledged by all countries. Currently in Germany B1 and M1 certificates are the most popular ones, but these test methods also enjoy a high reputation on the international markets. Some manufacturers provide their customers with certificates for America or Asia.

The established standards in the Unites States are standard NFPA 701 by the National Fire Protection Association as well as the California test standard CA 1237. The Japanese certificates, such as F-13039, are acknowledged on Asian markets.

Quality of fire protection

Fabrics, textile surfaces or other cloth for typical applications in advertising, exhibition and stage constructions or in show business and event locations have to be either flame-retardant (FR) or made of inherently flame-retardant fibres (IFR). This is of special importance when the fabric has to be washed. FR fabric might lose its properties after several times of washing or cleaning, IFR fabric does not. IBENA offers both flame-retardant and inherently flame-retardant fabric.

Other range of application

Quite different requirements and standards have to be met when it comes to fire crews, police officers or motor racing. Here textiles have to be a protective barrier between man and fire. Our business unit IBENA PROTECT is the specialist in this field. (http://www.protect.ibena.de)