Fibres and fires : the role of textiles in fires
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
Textiles are an intimate and prevalent part of our daily activities and life. This explains the frequency of textile-related fires and the many deaths and injuries that result. Natural fibre textiles may be broken into two categories; those fibres that are plant based, like cotton and linen, whose major constituent is cellulose but are highly combustible, and animal derived fibres consisting of complex protein molecules that are difficult to ignite and generally do not support combustion (wool is a good example). Synthetic fibres may melt or burn as a liquid under fire exposure creating new and difficult problems. Conversely, synthetics with possible advances in technology offer considerable hope of virtually eliminating all fire problems associated with fabrics. How easily a textile will burn depends on three crucial factors; the fibre, the fabric and the textile design. Fabric deals with the weave and relates to the surface area while the design of the fabric determines the amount of air accessible to the fibres. There exists a number of varied and complex methods of treating combustible fabrics. Generally flame retardant chemicals affect the flammability by a combination of four retardant theories (Chemical, Thermal, Coating and Gas). These result in temporary water soluble treatments, permanent treatments and outdoor treatments. When evaluating the fire hazard potential of clothing- the age, physical condition a.nd mentality of the user, the type and style of fabric, and the possible sources of ignition are all factors needing consideration. Residential fires cause the largest single number of fire fatalities with furnishings being the primary spreading agent. The fire hazard posed by a piece of furniture depends on how easily the fabric cover will catch on fire, or char through, and how fast the fabric I filling combination burns. Although the polyurethane foam of most furniture is highly hazardous it is often considered less important than the fabric covering it. The fabric choice for protective clothing depends on the end use and the hazards envisaged. It should be highly flame-resistant and not disintegrate or shrink during exposure. The fabric should have good thermal insulation, be easy cleaning and both lightweight and comfortable for wearer acceptance.
SubjectsField of Research::09 - Engineering::0910 - Manufacturing Engineering::091012 - Textile Technology
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