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Guidelines for Evaluating Fire Blocking Barrier Fabrics



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


This document provides guidelines to quantify fire performance properties of fire blocking barrier materials used in soft furnishings. In an attempt to enable a priori selection of fire barrier materials such that the final upholstered product complies with full-scale, open-flame fire resistance regulations, some test methods are suggested. The report also provides a brief review of existing test methods which generally use char length and/or mass loss as “pass/fail” criterion for assessing performance of barrier materials to be used in finished products. Generally, in these test methods, barrier materials are tested in mock-up configuration as opposed to individual component. Basic thermal conductivity measurements are used to determine effectiveness of materials to be used as fire barriers and, to some extent can predict their performance in bench-scale composite test as well as large-scale product test. The document includes description of flammability test methods used to characterize the ignitability, heat release rate, and heat transfer properties of barrier materials. Selected barrier materials have been examined for the aforementioned properties and results are discussed. A new bench-scale composite test method is also described to assess qualitative performance of barrier materials. Finally, quantitative flammability properties of barrier materials as single components are correlated with the burning behavior of a bench-scale composite assembly. The document is intended to be a technical resource that provides holistic approach to quantify the fire performance properties of fire blocking barrier materials used in soft furnishings. As such, it does not represent a minimum standard for barrier materials.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1798
Report Number


Barrier fabrics, Soft furnishings, upholstered furniture, mattress, flammability, bench-scale tests, thermal protective performance, heat release rate, thermal degradation


Nazare, S. , Pitts, W. , Flynn, S. , Davis, R. and Shields, J. (2013), Guidelines for Evaluating Fire Blocking Barrier Fabrics, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 13, 2024)


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Created April 18, 2013, Updated May 1, 2019