Every year there are more than 40,000 accidental house fires in England resulting in about 285 deaths and 9,000 people injured. Plastics are often scrutinised for their contribution to and performance within fires. This page lays down the credentials and highlights the key issues for plastics in fires.
Through the general evolution of plastics technology and the development of flame retardant additives, plastics materials are increasingly attractive for use in environments requiring high levels of fire performance.
It is the BPF's policy to promote within its membership high standards of fire safety through effective materials selection and the exchange of best practice. The BPF Fire Committee aims to secure an objective appreciation of the role of plastics in fire situations in the face of emotional prejudice.
Flame retardants are effective by a variety of different mechanisms, including preventing a material catching fire, slowing or extinguishing burning, protecting materials from heat.
The use of flame retardants plays a major role in fire safety: they save lives and prevent injuries and property damage; they protect the environment by helping to prevent fires from starting and spreading. Flame retardants can make decisive contribution to the fire safety of buildings, furniture, textiles, public transport and cars, and finally electric and electronic apparatus.
The European Flame Retardants Association, EFRA, is a Brussels-based association representing all the major companies that manufacture or market flame retartdants in Europe and covering all flame retardant chemistries. EFRA’s objectives are promote fire safety, to coordinate studies and research relating to flame retardant chemicals and to represent the fire retardant industry.
Many studies have shown that the initiation and development of accidental fires are complex fires.
PVC is resistent to ignition. The temperature required to ignite rigid PVC is more than 150 degrees celsius higher then that required to ignite wood. The ignition of common flexible PVC is lower, but with specialised formaulations, it may be significantly increased.
Under non-flaming conditions, PVC formulations typically give similar smoke densities to those produced by wood. Under flaming conditions, PVC produces greater quantities of smoke.
All organic materials, natural or synthetic, give rise to certain gases upon combustion. The majoy gaseous products of the combustion of PVC are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen chloride and water, most importantly,'chlorine gas is never produced when PVC burns.' PVC and the Environment - Hydro Polymers
Click here to view FAQs on PVC in Fires produced by Beama Installations.
The BPF is involved and represented on a range of ISO, BSI and IEC committees relating to plastics and fires.