This is everything you need to know about flame resistant materials and what to consider when choosing stage curtain fabrics
When deciding which fabric to use for your stage curtain, there are a number of factors you should take into account, including whether the material is fire retardant or not.
While the colour, texture and shape of the stage curtain material will most likely be the first things you consider, the properties of the material are just as important.
Stage curtains are commonly used in public areas such as schools, universities, local theatres, arenas and village halls. As such, health and safety must also be a consideration.
In this regard, it is important to use a stage curtain material that is fire retardant to ensure that in the event of a fire, the curtain is less likely to ignite and cause the blaze to spread further.
Below, we take a closer look at fire retardant materials and how they can improve safety while not compromising on the look and design of your stage curtain.
Jargon busting: fire retardant stage curtains
Fire retardant stage curtains have been made with special fibres or chemically treated so that they burn much slower in the event of a fire. This reduces the risk of fire spreading.
There are several different terms that relate to fire retardant materials, which we outline below.
IFR – Inherently Flame-Retardant materials are woven with naturally flame resistant fibres and meet UK fire standards without the need for chemical treatment.
DFR – Durable Flame Retardant fabrics have a flame-retardant treatment finish that can be washed and cleaned several times before it needs treating again.
NDFR – Non-Durable Flame Retardant materials have a chemical treatment that takes longer to ignite in the event of a fire. If they come into contact with liquid, they need to be retreated.
CBFR – Can Be Made Fire Retardant are fabrics that are not flame retardant as standard but can be treated to meet UK fire safety standards.
CNFR – Cannot Be Made Fire Retardant are fabrics, usually metallic or synthetic, that cannot be treated to be made fire retardant.
Fire retardant fabrics: look for this accreditation
If you are purchasing stage curtain fabrics to be used in a public place, you will need to make sure they comply with to British Standards (BS 5867).
There are different types of standards that relate to different fabric uses, but the one that usually applies to stage curtains is Type B.
BS 5867 Part 2: Type B is the standard for curtains and drapes that are used in hotels, public buildings and offices.
To check whether the fabric meets the required standards it is placed on a metal frame and a flame is applied to the surface for 15 seconds both before and after cleaning.
The fabric passes the test if:
- The flame doesn’t reach any edges of the fabric
- No burning debris falls from the fabric
The most common fire-retardant stage curtain fabrics:
No fabric is 100% fire-proof but thanks to special fibres being woven into materials and the use of chemical treatments, some are more fire retardant than others.
These are some of the most common:
Polyester – this material is slow to ignite and once it does take flame it tends to melt rather than burn. This can stop the spread of fire but it can also lead to burns if contact is made with skin.
Wool and silk – these materials are difficult to ignite as flames are often extinguished within the fibres of the fabric.
That being said, other fabrics such as cotton and linen can be chemically treated so that they are flame resistant within UK requirements.