If you are looking to buy a brand-new custom canopy for your business it is essential that you look for one that is flame-retardant and that you verify that it comes with a canopy fire certificate. While this may not be on your mind right away, there is always a chance that an incident involving fire may occur at your event. If you’re exhibiting at a fair or at a tradeshow where you are using electrical equipment that may require power, or if you’re cooking food or are next to someone using these, then there is an increase in the likelihood of in a public fire.
Many canopy owners don’t know that some canopies are more flame retardant than others. When a canopy is considered flame retardant, the fire doesn’t spread as quickly or grow as severe compared to canopies that are not considered flame retardant.
Here is some important information for you to know about flame retardancy and certifications for your tent.
What Do I Need To Know About Fire Certification For Canopies?
There are typically two certifications involving flame retardancy in tents. These are NFPA 701 and CPAI-84. Each of these involves testing a sample of your tent’s top material and lighting it on fire to show how rapid a flame spreads in a fixed amount of time. Where to get formally tested for these standards depends on your city or state.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a book of guidelines for testing the flammability of objects. In many states, it is required for many fabrics used in public spaces to be flame retardant. A test known as NFPA 701 is conducted to demonstrate how textiles such as those found in canopies react when put on fire. What is observed is how much the fabric resists the flame after 12 seconds. What is measured following that is the size of the flame, the char length, and if the fabric continues to burn.
If a fabric has a char length of smaller than 6.5 inches, an after-flame of less than two seconds, and it does not continue to burn after falling to the ground of the testing chamber, the fabric passes and is certified as flame retardant.
This is a test to evaluate the flame resistance of fabrics found specifically in tents. CPAI-84 also gives certification and performance criteria to test suppliers. What is analyzed is how the fabric is resistant to fire depending on char length and how much mass was lost from burning. This test, however, does not determine whether or not a fabric is flame retardant.
CPAI-84 was conceptualized in 1976 to reduce the likelihood of fires in paraffin-coated tents, such as those associated with circuses and fairs. This standard, however, is considered outdated and has not been revisited in over two decades. Since that time, very much has changed in the way textiles and fabrics for tents and canopies have been created.
Both CPAI-84 and NFPA 701 are standards that assess flame-resistant properties of fabrics. While CPAI-84 is a standard made exclusively for materials in tents, NFPA 701 is a more general method of testing fabrics.
What States Require Certification?
While the NFPA is the national standard, it is not a law that requires every tent fabric to be tested. Thus, it is up to state and local laws to determine whether testing of this standard is necessary. Some of the states have their own laws for testing the flame resistance of fabrics, and others use NFPA 701 as the go-to standard.
The following states require NFPA 701 testing in general, for products aside from textiles:
- South Carolina
The following states have unique testing and laws for flame retardant tents, canopies, and other textiles:
- California requires fabrics and drapery used in public areas have to be registered with the California State Fire Marshall.
- Massachusetts requires fabrics used in public areas have to meet NFPA standards. However, the city of Boston requires users to apply for a permit for each fabric being used.
- New York requires fabrics used in public areas have to meet NFPA standards in addition to obtaining a canopy fire certificate via the New York Administrative Code.
If you live in a state where canopy laws are lenient or nonexistent, it still would be a good idea to contact the coordinator for each event you plan to use your canopy at, for guidelines about tents and fire safety.
Why Is Getting Certification Important?
Even if you do not live in a state that requires CPAI-84 and NFPA 701 testing, we recommend that you get your canopies and other textile fabrics for public use tested and approved. Having a canopy that is certified to be flame retardant is important. If a fire were to occur when your canopy is in operation, you and other officials would have more time to put out to fire before it spreads. A text or canopy that isn’t flame retardant will burn much quicker and cause the fire to grow faster, potentially spreading to adjacent tents, nearby tree limbs, electrical cords and cables, and more.
There are a few things that can cause a tent to catch fire, and one of them is equipment that overheats. If you are intending to cook or bake foods using ovens, grills, stoves, microwaves, vendors, or other appliances, you’ll be dealing with flammable liquids and gasses as well as heat that is hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit. In such case, having a tent or canopy certified to be flame retardant is extremely necessary. Event officials can find your certification helpful so that any fire, no matter where it comes from or goes, can be better controlled.
Having a canopy that is approved as flame retardant will help simplify matters in the event of a fire. With more flame retardant canopies in public areas, the easier it can be for a fire to be controlled and extinguished. When dealing with a lot of electricity and heat, you would like to be part of the solution and not the problem. Thus, make sure you get a flame retardant canopy that can be certified properly.