All About Fire Retardant Foam
It is important to consider fire safety in a range of different industries and environments, and one way to ensure the safety of the space is to do with the soft furnishings and materials that are within it. Fire retardant foam can prevent the rapid spread of fire, and in many cases is a legal obligation to use in place of regular foam.
What is fire retardant foam?
Fire retardant foam is a specialist type of foam that is designed to withstand flames. It is chemically treated in such a way that it is able to withstand a source of ignition. During the manufacturing process, fire retardant foam undergoes various processes and treatments to ensure and enhance these fire-resistant qualities.
Fire retardant foam is most frequently found in construction applications, in transportation, soft furnishings and other industries and applications where its use is compulsory.
Fire retardant foam versus flame resistant foam
You may often hear these two terms being used interchangeably, but there is a difference between flame resistant foam and fire retardant foam. On the one hand, flame resistant foam is a type of foam that is inherently able to withstand fire (e.g. it already possesses fire-resistant properties) without the need for additional chemical treatments.
On the other hand, fire retardant foam is a specialist type of foam that has undergone certain treatments to ensure it is fire resistant. During the manufacturing process it is treated with a selection of fire retardant chemicals to ensure this.
What is fire retardant foam made of?
This type of foam is usually made from a base foam material such as polyurethane or polyethylene, but is then treated with a range of fire retardant additives. These chemicals are usually made from fire-resistant fibres including fibreglass, and work by releasing gases or creating a layer of protective char when exposed to heat, creating a barrier to the flames.
Key benefits and applications of fire retardant foam
There are a range of applications for fire retardant foam, all of which bring a selection of benefits. The primary benefit is that it is able to slow down the progression of fire by acting as a barrier, which helps with giving valuable extra time for building evacuation and fire fighting efforts.
Similarly, fire retardant foam can be created in various shapes and sizes, meaning it can be used in many different applications. These include being used in insulation, household furniture, automotive components, transportation interiors and as soundproofing materials.
Fire retardant foam is also great for thermal insulation. It is able to reduce heat transfer and also minimises the risk of structural damage during a fire. This is why it is so commonly used as standard within the construction industry.
Fire retardant foam is a good smoke suppressant too, helping to reduce the amount of smoke generated during a fire. It can help with the dispersion of smoke, which in turn improves visibility for fire crews.
Is fire retardant foam toxic?
The chemicals used to treat fire retardant foams can be hazardous in their concentrated, chemical forms, but are usually incorporated into foam products in very safe levels - particularly when this foam is sourced from a reputable UK-based manufacturer. There are many strict regulations around fire retardant foam.