Thanks to a new partnership with Fire Defender, STM Studio Supplies can now treat your curtains with fire retardants – or supply the retardant for you to DIY. Helping you meet your fire compliance needs!
You may or may not be aware that your school hall curtains and even those concealing your mirrors at exam time in your dance studio are subject to specific fire regulations.
FR fabrics are required for Restaurants, Halls / Conference rooms, Theatres etc where more than 20 people can be assembled at any one time.
Curtains and drapes then should be assessed for compliance in this regard annually and a log kept of that inspection and any maintenance done.
These items may be included as part of a checklist during the annual inspection by the fire brigade or fire safety officer. Only when there appears to be problem need an expert be bought in to asses further.
STM Studio Supplies can help to keep your curtains safe, legal, and compliant by conducting an onsite assessment in most capital cities, and report on and arrange any cleaning, repair and fire-retardant treatments you may require.
All fabrics that are advised to be FR (Fire Retardant) by suppliers should have an AWTA Textile Testing or equivalent certificate which confirms that they meet particular levels / specifications of Fire Retardancy.
The certificate identity code specifically for window furnishing fabrics is AS1530.2. The fabrics are tested with a flame on the fabric to measure the rate of burning in terms of “Speed Factor”, “Spread Factor” and “Heat Factor” which from these three factors the “Flammability Index” is calculated.
The calculations are then expressed in terms of an index between 0 and 100, with 0 being the best reading. Readings of between 0 and 10 are considered acceptable.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) also requires that curtains and drapes are tagged with a label that has a specific/minimal amount of relevant information that identifies their compliance.
The current Fire Safety Code under section C1.10 of the Building Code of Australia requires that “Fire Hazard Properties” are “maintained to conform to the AS/NZS1530.3 fire code standard (NSW AS/NZS1530.2 and AS/NZS1530.3).” IFR fabrics essentially need to be kept clean, although at the time of cleaning it is good practise to include a topical retardation and even though this is only guaranteed for two years it still maintains the sentiment of assessing risk and taking due care, and is generally accepted as adequate for 5 years depending on the amount of UV light to which it is exposed.
The procedure for formal certification for each set of curtains is impractical and involves taking a metre sized piece out of the curtain and a $1200 plus and up to 8week testing process. That is typically done only by fabric manufacturers and is not strictly required from venues for obvious reasons.
While most curtains in theatres are wool, some are rayon also IFR and often front of house being velvet. Older velvet is most commonly cotton and not IFR. These may often be fire retarded in situ if they are otherwise acceptable. This is substantially less cost than the removing and dry-cleaning and re fire proofing.
The ongoing maintenance requirements of compliance with AS1530 part 2 and 1530 part 3 are non-specific. As wool and currently our velvet fabrics are inherently flame retardant (IFR), there is no requested requirement for maintenance inspection, as these fabrics will remain fire retardant for the entirety of their working lifespan.
However there is a need to ensure that they have not been subject to water damage, stains and accumulated dust that can contribute to the deterioration of applied flame retardant, greatly reducing the ability to inhibit the spread of fire.