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Factors for Consideration in an Open-Flame Test for Assessing Fire Blocking Performance of Barrier Fabrics



Shonali Nazare, William M. Pitts, John R. Shields, Rick D. Davis


The main objective of the work reported here is to assess factors that could affect the outcome of a proposed open flame test for barrier fabrics (BF-open flame test). The BF-open flame test characterizes barrier effectiveness by monitoring the ignition of a flexible polyurethane foam (FPUF) layer placed in contact with the upper side of the barrier fabric exposed to a burner flame from below. Particular attention is given to the factors that influence the ignitibility of the FPUF including thermal resistance, permeability, and structural integrity of the barrier fabrics (BFs). A number of barrier fabrics displaying a wide range of the properties are tested with the BF-open flame test. Visual observations of the FPUF burning behavior and BF char patterns in addition to heat flux measurements on the unexposed side of the barrier fabrics are used to assess the protective performance of BF specimen under the open flame test conditions. The temperature and heat transfer measurements on the unexposed side of the BF and subsequent ranking of BFs for their thermal protective performance suggest that the BF-open flame test does not differentiate barrier fabrics based on their heat transfer properties. A similar conclusion is reached with regard to BF permeability characterized at room temperature. However, the outcome of this BF-open flame test is found to be heavily influenced by the structural integrity of thermally degraded BF. The BF-open flame test, in its current form, only ignited FPUF when structural failure of the barrier was observed.


upholstered furniture, barrier fabrics, flammability, thermal protective performance, thermal degradation, flaming ignition, flexible polyurethane foam


Nazare, S. , Pitts, W. , Shields, J. and Davis, R. (2016), Factors for Consideration in an Open-Flame Test for Assessing Fire Blocking Performance of Barrier Fabrics, Polymers, [online], (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created July 7, 2016, Updated May 1, 2019