Every canopy / tent top made at Celina Tent is created from flame resistant or nonflammable fabrics. Our manufacturing facility has a fully-stocked quality lab for use in testing our incoming fabrics and materials to make sure that they are compliant with the appropriate tent flame specifications.
In line with common safety practices, it is important to understand exactly what is meant by describing the “Flame Retardant” properties of commercial tent top materials. When delving into this area, various complicated-sounding terms are bound to surface:
CPAI 87 Nonflammable / Flame Resistant NFPA 701 Flame Certificates
Defining Industry Terms
Speaking simply, when a textile is said to be “Flame Resistant,” it is accepted to mean that should a section of the material be exposed to an ignition source, the material should extinguish itself once the ignition source is removed. This means that removal of whatever started the fire; be it an errant ember, a fallen cigarette, or a tipped candle. Once the ignition source is removed, a material that is “flame resistant” should stop burning on its own. The term “nonflammable” refers to a material that is resistant to catching fire in the first place; it does not mean that it is fireproof.
Flame resistant, it should be noted, does not mean that the material will not burn; it alludes to the difficulty with which material starts burning and extinguishes once the ignition source is removed. Regardless of the Flame Specification met, the fabric will burn if left in continuous contact with a flame.
Put to the Test
These traits are reflected in the standard test procedures listed for both CPAI 87 and NFPA 701 certifications. The point of using these tests for fabrics is that by using the same methods as described, it is much easier to use the results as a rubric for comparing all materials tested to these specifications. Each test is used to determine if a material meets very specific criteria; a specifically sized test piece has open flame applied for 12 seconds, after which the flame is removed and the material is observed for how it reacts. If it represents the criteria for certification, the material is said to pass the test. The criteria are:
- Length of material that becomes charred
- How long the material continued to burn
- How long the material continued to burn
Tests are run in sets of four to avoid any flukes in the testing data. If at any point during any of the four tests the material fails to pass the upper threshold for a criterion, the material is said to have failed the entire test process and needs to be reassessed.
So now you are aware that the material used in your structure has passed these tests – how does this affect certification? Each state and local government chooses how stringent to make the fire codes for their areas. Leniencies can differ greatly from area to area. The California State Fire Marshal Code remains the strictest of these codes from around the country and has become the go-to certification. Since their testing procedures are strict, acquiring this certification grants you certification in any area of equal or less-strict fire codes, which includes a majority of areas in the United States. Similar to the use of the common testing procedures described above, this continuity of standards allows one certification to be used in lieu of a multitude of required testing and certifying processes from one area to the next.
The identification label in each of Celina’s canopy tops bears the NFPA-701 logo and in most instances is sufficient when dealing with local officials. Customers can also download Flammability Certificates from our website www.GetTent.com.
What to Do
Celina’s event tents have passed all of the standard flame resistance tests and been attained the certification. This certification does not, however, guarantee that your tent will not, under any circumstances, burn. These safety measures are in place to augment property safety procedures that all tent users and installers are expected to carry out for the duration of any installation.
The easiest method of preventing fire damage to a fabric structure involves avoiding ignition sources all together. As stated in the tent instruction manuals that accompany our tents, you should never have an open flame underneath a fabric structure at any time. Bonfires, lit candles, stoves, and any other burning items should be kept far away from the tent at all times. The smallest ember, lifted on a breeze, can land on the tent fabric, attached ropes, and/or ratchet straps and risk ignition.
If an ignition source of any types comes in contact with the tent fabric, remove it immediately. The flame resistance of the fabric should keep any fire from starting on the fabric if the source is found and immediately extinguished or removed. Should a fire of any type occur, it is important to evacuate the tent immediately, call your local fire department, and await help. NEVER re-enter a burning tent.