Safe buildings protect the people and assets inside. Some industries – including mining, oil and gas production, military and aviation – have strict flammability codes due to the nature of the work performed and equipment used inside. Event centers, sports arenas, casinos and public rodeo arenas, must meet fire standards in order to protect the lives inside during a fire.
While there is no type of building completely immune to the impact of fire, using a flame-retardant fabric cladding is one way to meet code and protect the building. ExxoTec™ PVC cladding is naturally flame-retardant.
Why Choose Flame-Retardant Fabric?
Only flame-retardant (FR) fabric like ExxoTec™ meet the building code requirements within North America. The chemical compounds found in FR fabric cannot be added later. The only way to change the flame retardancy of a fabric structure post-construction is by completely recovering the building. FR fabric is required in the building code to enhance human safety issues in the event of a fire.
Dangers of Non-Flame Retardant Fabric
Any fabrics that are not FR rated (meeting NFPA 701 in the USA and S 109 in Canada) do not meet the building codes in North America and cannot be used in construction without special permissions. Additionally, it may also impact how your insurance company views the insurability of your building, as it would not meet building code – potentially impacting insurance rates (or worse).
Even without potential loss of life, protecting the building contents is an important consideration. While fires are a rare occurrence, it only takes one to destroy the inventory inside the building as well as the building itself and the surrounding area. Self-extinguishing fabric can help keep the building from becoming engulfed in flame or collapsing from heat exposure, granting additional time to put the fire out while minimizing damage to the contents inside.
How Does Flame-Retardant Fabric Work?
As a limited combustible material, self-extinguishing fabric will shrink away in the presence of fire but will not sustain combustion or spread the flame. As the fabric shrinks away, the building self-vents – allowing smoke and heat to escape the building. Self-venting buildings help to reduce the risk for building frame and contents by allowing the heat to escape. Heat build-up during fires typically does the most damage during fire events, and fabric buildings help reduce this risk.
ExxoTec™ fabric can help with reducing the risk of a small fire from becoming a large fire. In many instances when a fire has started inside a flame-retardant fabric structure, the damage was repaired and the building was back to use within a few weeks.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Fire Suppression System?
Most commercial buildings are required to have a fire suppression system that uses water or chemicals to put the fire out. Fire suppression systems and sprinklers are an integral part of a fire safety plan – in the event of a fire, these systems will still be used to stop the fire and keep the building contents from burning. FR fabric like ExxoTec™ does not put out the fire.
Combining ExxoTec™ fabric with a fire suppression system fights the fire on two fronts: The fire suppression system works to stop the fire. The FR fabric can shrink away from the heat, allowing smoke and heat to escape the building, allowing time for people to escape and for firefighters to arrive on scene and put the fire out.
Is Flame-Retardant Fabric Really Safer?
Fabric must pass tests to bear the flame-retardant label. The NFPA 701 flame tests determine whether or not the fabric self-extinguishes or not. Self-extinguishing fabric is important as it does not add fuel to the fire. Additionally, the ASTM E-84 smoke development test determines the amount of smoke that is developed from the fabric during a fire. ExxoTec™ fabric has a Class A rating for smoke development.
ExxoTec™ fabric meets standards set by the California Fire Marshal, ASTM, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Underwriters Laboratory of Canada (CAN/ULC), Uniform Building Code (UBC), the Federal Aviation Administration FAR 25.863(a), and European standard EN 13501-1 and DIN 4102.
When exposed to fire, non-FR PE fabric will feed the fire and continue to burn. ExxoTec™ PVC fabric is self-extinguishing, helping to reduce the spread of the flame. Once the building is engulfed in flame, it’s hard – and dangerous – to put it out.
Want to learn more about the benefits of fabric structures? Request more information.