Whether you are an outdoor kitchen fan, an outdoor event organizer for your organization, or a food business that provides exciting outdoor culinary experiences, your cooking tents must meet the required fire safety standards. As guests gather around the BBQ grill and socialize, you need to ensure that tents and its parts are safe for everyone.
When fire accidents happen inside your cooking tent, you can land into legal trouble, lose clients and stain your business reputation. You can foster the safety of your staff, friends and guests by ensuring that your cooking tent meet CPAI-84 and NFPA 701 standards.
We understand that the complexity of fire resistance codes and standards regarding the flammability textiles can forge up compliance issues. We intend to put up everything as clear as possible in this article regarding NFPA 701 and the CPAI 84 certifications that your cooking tents must have and their importance. If you are a tent installer looking to update existing tents or an individual looking to purchase a pop up tent for your next outdoor event, understanding the differences between these certifications is crucial.
The national standard, NFPA 701, developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) establishes test methods to assess the propagation of flame of various textiles and films under specified fire test conditions. On the other hand, Industrial Fabrics Association International set CPAI-84 as the standard for the flammability of recreational tents. Let’s see the functions of these codes and their applicability.
Fire Protection Terms
First, let’s see some of the terms you might encounter when sifting through fire safety certification documents.
Flammability: the tendency of a material to catch on fire and sustain the fire without self-extinguishing.
Flame Retardant: materials such as polyester that are designed to resist fires.
Flame Resistant: fireproof materials such as fiberglass that self-extinguish when they catch fire.
After Flame: length of time a material continues to burn after the source of fire is moved away from it.
Char Length: the length to which a flame ignited at the bottom of a vertically-standing material travels upwards for a specific duration of time.
Residual Flame/Drip Burn: this refers to burnt-off material that falls off a burning fabric and continues to burn on its own.
Understanding NFPA 701
Understanding NFPA 701 can be technically perplexing because of its non-legal status, yet it has proven to be a crucial certification for any business renting or selling with outdoor textiles. The NFPA 701 is a voluntary industry specification for fire safety and provides standard tests for textile fabrics and films to determine their degree of flammability. NFPA 701 standard requires materials such as draperies and tents used in public spaces to be fire retardant.
NPFA have different sets of regulations and standards depending on the use of material. The organization has two test methods – test method 1 and test method 2. Here, we’ll focus on two test methods meant for outdoor materials like tents and awnings that have a real density of more than 21 oz.
Method 2 test involves exposing the fabric to a 1.5-inch flame for 12 seconds where the char length, flaming residue, and flame size are noted. The material passes the test if:
- The char length is less than 6.5 inches
- The after flame does not exceed 2 seconds
- The material stops burning immediately once it reaches the floor
This test provides a reliable and accurate means of determining fire resistance in outdoor materials since it factors in weathering of the material. Before installing tents for clients, you need to check the NFPA website for any updates. The organization publishes revisions every few years, so keep checking to get updated. The NFPA gives freedom to states and other local governments to create their own enforceable guidelines and standards.
What is CPAI-84?
Established in 1976, CPAI 84 is a non-committal and voluntary standard to be used to limit the risk of fire in tents. This is the standard test that applies to outdoor fabrics including camping tents, indoor and outdoor play tents, canopies, awnings, and screen houses.
The CPAI 84 seeks to determine the flammability of materials used in making tents. During the CPAI-84 test, the char length, after flame and the mass loss, is recorded. Unlike the NFPA 701 certification, CPAI 84 does not seek to determine whether or not a fabric is flame retardant.
The CPAI-84 covers several aspects of tenting material:
- Flooring: this is the pliable material used on the floors of tents integral to the parts of the tent. It does not include rugs or carpets placed on the floor.
- Wall and Top material: any other material integral to the parts of the tent other than the flooring material.
Comparison Between CPAI-84 & NFPA 701
Both CPAI-84 and NFPA 701 certifications are non-official and non-regulatory. But most states and local authorities require you to have one or both of the certifications to undertake your outdoor festivals, exhibitions and other events safely.
The NFPA 701 seeks to determine the fire resistance of draperies and other materials used indoors and outdoors. CPAI 84 is designed to measure fire resistance in actual tent parts but it does not provide classifications for fire retardancy as the NFPA 701.
Keep in mind that CPAI-84 certified tents are not automatically NFPA 701 certified because the CPAI-84 does not seek to determine flame retardancy. Consider obtaining an NFPA 701 certified material for two reasons: it shows that the fabric fire retardant and it is mostly required by the fire marshal at events. Fire marshals may not require CPAI-84 certification, but getting a tent that has both certifications means higher standards of fire safety.
Having CPAI-84 certification and understanding elements of NFPA 701 is the first line of safety against fire accidents when cooking under the tents. These certifications ensure that vendors have nothing to worry about when delivering and installing camping tentage for their customers. When preparing meals for guests under tents, maintain high standards of fire safety practices to prevent fire incidents that can spoil your party. Above all, ensure that your tent meets state and local authorities specifications for fire safety.
If you keep your certifications up-to-date and instill safety and fire avoidance measures when you set up your tents, you are sure to conduct successful events that will keep your business running smoothly for a long time.