The concept of protecting textiles / garments from burning dates back to ancient times or at least to the middle ages.

Fire takes a steady toll of both human life and property. The results are often tragic and in many cases (at least potentially) avoidable.
Just three minutes after ignition a fire can become a full-blown blaze. “At a conservative estimate, death from asphyxiation is likely to occur within four minutes.” Every fire is a potential killer and delaying the time from ignition to full blown blaze even by just minutes can mean vital extra escape time and the difference between “SURVIVAL and DEATH”. In the beginning awareness of flame-retardants would have avoided the major disaster to a large extent. Due to fire occurring in public places, horrific loss of life has occurred

Why Flame Retardants:
“Flame retardants can and do save lives”, both by preventing garments from igniting and by increasing the escape time in the event of a fire up to 15 fold. A flame retardant finish will not always be sufficient to stop a fire breaking out.
Flame Retardants are effective at preventing propagation of flame started by a small ignition source but larger fires pose more of a problem. Because it is smoke that is invariably the killer, the “perfect”. Flame retardant would also reduce the production of toxic products in the smoke.

Despite improved methods of fire detection and prevention, accidental house fires do still, and will continue to happen and it is the smoke – a mixture of gases, liquid droplets and solid particles

representing the decomposition and combustion products from fires
– that presents the real treat to human life. The problem has many components, which can be summarized as

  A wide range of commonly used materials is flammable. A range of situations, in theatres, restaurants, clubs and aircraft can cause heavy loss of life in the event of fire.

Progress in reducing the fire hazard has been made, but is constrained by a series of factors.

The risk is not widely appreciated by the general public, except when a major disaster occurs.
Any solution, which restricts personal freedom, is likely to be avoided by a significant number of people. Any product with reduced aesthetic and comfort qualities will be less successful even if it has fire retardant properties. Any solution, which adds significantly to product cost, may be resisted by the processor.

The flammability of fabrics is




The of

characteristics of different types of fibers and their blends. flammability characteristics

commercially available fibres vary

widely as seen from Table 1.

Fibre Auto Ignition temp. (°C) 400 420 475 540 530 532 Maximum flame temp (°C) 860 850 960 885 875 * Flammability

Cotton Rayon Acetate Triacetate Nylon 6 Nylon 66

Burns readily with char formation and afterglow Burns readily with char formation and afterglow. Burns and melts ahead of flame. Burns readily and melts ahead of flame Melts, supports combustion with difficulty. Melts, does not readily support combustion. Burns readily with melting and soot. Burns readily with melting and sputtering. Melts, burns very slowly. Burns slowly. Does not support combustion.

* These fibres do not burn.

Polyester Acrylic
Modacrylic Poly propylene Polyvinyl chloride and polyvinylidene chloride Wool

450 560
* 570 *

697 855
* 839 *



Supports combustion with difficulty.

Materials can be classified clearly into those which will burn in air once ignited and those which are self extinguishing, if not in direct contact with an ignition source. Amongst those materials, which will burn freely, two other properties may add significantly to the hazard. The heat of combustion : Any material with a high heat of combustion provides increased ignition for surrounding materials. Heats of combustion can vary from 11.6 kcal/g for polypropylene down to 3.4 kcal/g for viscose rayon. Thermal properties: A series of thermal transition temperatures covers important events when a material is exposed to an ignition source.

Tg:The glass transition or softening temperature particularly in clear rigid plastics.
Tm:The melting point (Thermo plastics only) Tp:Pyrolysis temperature: rapid thermal degradation of the polymer. Tc:Combustion temperature: Spontaneous ignition occurs. Some materials such as wool and modacrylic have a Tc as high as 600 - 700C and are difficult to ignite.

The atmosphere contains about 21% oxygen. The rest (nitrogen, CO2, water, noble gases etc.) does not support combustion. It has been experimentally found that increasing the ratio of O2 to N2 makes some materials burn that are self extinguishing in air. Conversely, materials, which burn readily in the air, are self-extinguishing in nitrogen - rich atmosphere. This leads to a useful and general test for classifying flammability. The limiting oxygen index (LOI) test seeks to establish the minimum oxygen content of an environment in which a material will continue to burn. The material with the LOI greater than 25 are generally self-extinguishing in air. Those with the lowest LOI values burn most readily very few materials indeed refuse to burn in atmosphere approaching 100% O2. The LOI values of various fibres are given in Table 2.

Fibre LOI Fibre LOI

Poly acrylonityle
Polyethylene Polystyrene

18.0 18.5

Nylon 66
Wool Modacrylic

25.2 26.8

Poly ethylene terephthalate

21.0 22.0

Tufban* Polyvinyl

30.32 60.0


Polyvinyl alcohol

Polytetra95.0 fluoroethylene

*Aramid fibre

Area of use Wearing Fabric End use Children’s wear Old men’s wear Sleepwear Wigs Interior goods Curtain Carpet Wall cloth LOI (Minimum) 28 28 28 27 29-30 24-26 25



Blanket Sheets

24 24

The major contribution to saving life is to “Retard” the combustion process. In order to understand how flammability hazards can be reduced, it is necessary to study the nature of the combustion process. Combustion can very easily develop into a run-away, selffeeding events producing enormous heat, suffocating and toxic fumes and total destruction.

The essential components for burning:

Ignition source Fuel An oxidant (usually oxygen of the air)

Heat and fumes feed back readily burned gases and give increased ignition. The rate of combustion increases and can reach explosive violence in so-called flash over events and such an event cause major loss of life. The bulk of the material that is burnt in a typical house fire – plastics, wood and textiles – is made up of combustible organic compounds. In theory, a wellventilated fire with efficient combustion will product low toxicity products, mainly CO2, H2O and heat. But real fires bear little resemblance to theoretical models: Inefficient combustion process, combined with the more complicated elemental composition of the materials being decomposed, result in a complex mix of combustion products, many of which are toxic. Over many years a four-fold attack has been mounted on loss of life and injury by fire.

There are tour types of products that cause concern. 1. Asphyxiant gases (CO, HCN and CO2 etc.) 2. Organic irritants (e.g. acrolein, crotonaldehyde, formaldehyde, phenol, styrene). 3. Inorganic irritants (oxides of nitrogen and sulphur and phosphates) 4. Exotics – Substances such as dioxine, fluoro carbons and isocyanate derivatives which may have long term health or environmental hazards.

The two predominant mechanisms by which flame-retardants act are in: 1. Solid or condensed-phase and 2. In gas-phase retardation of combustible products. Concomitant increases in the formation of char, carbon dioxide and water occur when solid-phase mechanism is operative. Reduction of volatile, flammable products by the condensed-phase mode is affected by dehydration and/or cross-linking. Although these modes of action are well established for cellulosic fibers, more detailed studies are needed to elucidate the precise modes of condensed-phase behavior in the case of other fibres. In combination with the particulates in the smoke, which impair vision, the organic and inorganic irritants impede escape attempts because of their painful effects on the eyes and respiratory tract. The asphyxiant gases cause incapacitation and eventually death.

The mechanism of burning of textiles :
Decomposition Ignition Combustion
Non-flaming degradation

Flame Propagation

Physical response,Shrinkage, melting, charring

Oxidizer Heat Flame


Combustible gases Non combustible gases Liquids (partially decomposed polymers) Solids (carbonaceous residues or char) Smoke (entrained solid or liquid particles)

Gaseous products of the combustion of organic polymers
Source Wool, silk, nitrogencontaining polymers (PAN, ABS, polyurethanes, nylons, amino resins, etc.) Vulcanized rubbers, sulfurcontaining polymers, wool Gaseous products of combustion HCN, NO, NO2, NH3

SO2, H2S, CO2, CS2

PVC, PTFE, polymers HCI, HF, HBr containing halogenated flame retardants, etc.


Polyolefins and many other Alkanes, alkenes Benzene organic polymers Polystyrene, PVC, polyesters, etc. Phenolic resins Wood, paper Phenol, aldehydes Acrolein Formaldehyde Formic and acetic adds

*Aramid fibre Polyacetals
Cellulosic fibers

Design : Substantial progress has been made in the design of buildings, aircrafts, trains, upholstery and garments to avoid flammability and larger scale fire risks. Alongside this, progress has been made in testing. The emphasis in testing is on complete structures rather than individual materials, which are adequately characterized by existing tests. The key to designing low risk structures is based on spread of combustion and combustion products (toxic fumes, smoke etc.) For a given material, e.g., cellulose, the rate of combustion varies enormously. This is illustrated by igniting two sheets of newspaper. The first is held open and ignited at the bottom edge. The second is rolled tightly. This burns very much more slowly and controllably. It is clear from this and similar observations, that fabric and garment structure can play a substantial role in fire-retardancy. Fine nets, free hanging edges, streamers and open structures with free access to air, leads to maximum combustion rates and likely points for casual ignition. By contrast heavy, closely woven materials, multi-layer structures are free from easily ignitable features and reduce the risk.

Flame retardant fabrics are needed for a variety of uses such as for:  Apparels and garments - sleepwear, nightwear, children's wear, loose garments, sarees, shawls, kitchen wear, etc., where there are chances of accidental contact with flame. Uniforms for fire-fighting personnel.  Dresses, boiler suits and protective clothing for workmen in many industries like petroleum & petrochemicals, oils, paints & varnishes, mining, iron & steel, explosives matches, organic chemicals & solvents, electricity generation & distribution, foundry, welding, petrol & diesel pumps, cooking gas storage & distribution etc.

 Home furnishing and decorations - curtains, drapes, upholstery, bedding, mattresses, wall coverings & trimmings etc.
 Carpets and rugs.

 Industrial fabrics - Brattice cloth for coal mines, carpet backing fabrics, barrier fabric as overlay on foam and rubber cushions, underlay in motor vehicles, wall coverings, decorative fabrics etc.

 Hotels, restaurants, clubs, rest houses, dormitories, auditoriums, theatres, cinema halls, religious worship & congregation halls, marriage halls, hospitals, schools & colleges etc.
 Armed Forces (Defence) - clothing for airmen & fire fighting crew, overalls, parachutes, awnings, tarpaulins, canvas including SKOP (Support Kit Overhead Protection), claddings & shelters, etc.; also for Paramilitary, Police etc.  Exports - garments, curtains, wall coverings, bed covers, mattresses, quilts, airline furnishings, automobile fabrics etc

FLAMMABILITY TESTING: The tests established provide controlled reproduceable ignition systems and measurement of following combustion. This may be either as flame or as glowing char. Each test has been carefully compared with the burning behaviour of garments, furnishings and carpets. In addition, appropriate test methods lay down standardized washing and solubility tests. These are used to assess durability of FR finishes.

Several special hazards have been identified and allowed for testing. Both soaps and fabric softeners are flammable materials. In hard water conditions, laundering with soaps leads to build up of lime soaps on the fabric. These are flammable and can cause premature failure of flammability test. All the phosphorous containing flame retardants suffer pre-mature loss of durability if laundered with sodium hypochlorite type of bleaching agents.
It is important, when discussing fire retardancy and when selling fire retardant products, to use precise terminology. If you make an ascertain that product has low flammability or is “flame resistant” or does not burn you may have to defend the statement in a court of law. Terminology, testing and labelling must be clear and unambiguous. 1. Use approved and defined terminology. 2. Refer to BS, ISO, IS tests by which the terminology is established. 3. Ensure that the products and materials pass the appropriate test.

The terms flame proof and fire proof should be avoided. Fire retardant is a useful general term. “Does not sustain flame” is the approved term. Self extinguishing is widely used to describe materials which only burn in contact with an ignition source. Reduced fire hazard or resists ignition are also acceptable terms but should only be used in connection with a specified test. A variety of carefully designed tests is available by which the property can be measured. Test methods and their execution and interpretation are a highly specialized area. Individual testing houses set up appropriate apparatus, trained staff and receive validation and certification. It is common practice to use such certified testing procedures to ensure product integrity.

List Of Some Important FR Standards:
Application Country Burning Test

Childrens sleepwear
Performance of fabrics and assemblies for sleep wear and dressing gowns. Airways uniform Textile & furnishing


DOC FF 3-71 and 5-74 CS 191-93
BS 5722 / BS 3119:3120 / IS 11871

BS Germany Great Britain Europe USA Internatio nal

British Airways FR - test 1993 DIN 4102-1 B2 BS 5852 Part-1 & 2 DIN EN1021-1 DIN EN 1021-2 CALIFORNIA TECH BULLETIN NO 117 SEC A / NFPA 701 JAR/FAR 25.853


Protective clothing

Germany USA

DIN 75 200 FMVSS 302
DIN EN 532

CLASSIFICATION OF FLAME RETARDANTS: These FR chemicals are often divided into non-durable, semi-durable and FR systems. Since the costs for the non-durable FR chemicals are usually much less than the durable systems, the non-durable FR chemicals are used wherever possible Non Durable or Non permanent: The flame retardant deposits on the fibre. We can offer a suitable product for all fibre types. The products of this range are not resistant to soaking or washing, but some are resistant to dry cleaning. Semi-permanent flame retardants :Due to the low solubility of the components applied, the products are resistant to soaking. This is mainly required by the furniture industry and carried out according to the so-called soaking test BS 5651. The specimen is placed for 30 min in a 40ºC warm water bath, without any mechanical stress, however. Permanent flame retardants With cellulosic fibres, the flame retardant forms a chemical bond with the fibres’ reactive groups. The PES and PA fibres are thermally opened after the application of the flame retardant so that it can deposit. This is the so-called thermosol process. The flame-retardant effects obtained are highly wash-resistant on cellulosic, PES and PA fibres.


Glogard-NC Glogard- Glogard- Glogard- Glogard- Glogard-LFR GlogardCSND HFR PP PAD STU/conc
Inorganic & organic salt blends
Inorganic phosphorus & nitrogen compound cyclic phosphonate

GlogardCP New
Organic phosphorus compound, fibrereactive

Glogard- GlogardZF UDS
Organo phosphoro us compound Latex polymer, metallic oxides & halogen sources

Note: □□□ Very Good Ionic character CEL WO PAN Substrate PA PES padding process foam Application application examples exhaust method spray/WEK O process coating Application quantity Padding process(g/l) resistance to soaking Durability resistance to washing resistance to dry cleaning

□□: Good □ Satisfactory ---- Not applicable Nonionic □□□ □□□ □□ □□□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 ------□□□ Nonionic □□□ □□□ □□□ □□□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 ------□□□ Nonionic □ □ □□□ □□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 ------□□□ Nonionic □□□ □□□ □□ □□□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 ------□□□
Nonionic Nonionic Nonionic Nonionic Anionic

Nonionic □□□ □□□ □□ □□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 ------□□□

□□□ □□□ □□ □□□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ ---400 □□□ ---□□□

-----------□□□ □□□ ---□ □□□ □□ 100-200 □□□ □□□ □□□

□□□ □□□ ---------□□□ ------------350-400 □□□ □□□ □□□

----□□□ ----□□□ ----□□□ ---------□□□ 150-200 □□□ □□□ □□□

□□□ ---------□□□ □□□ □□□ ------□□□ 400-600 □□□ □□□ □□□


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