Fire Resistant Plants Overview and FAQs for Silk Plants

Fire Resistant Silk Plants Why are fire resistant plants with flame resistant foliage important?
Historically, many fires have been caused by a lack of fire resistance in silk or artificial plants, which are often used in commercial spaces for maintenance and durability reasons. In all of these cases the fires could have been prevented with properly manufactured fire retardant plants and trees. Fortunately, the majority of states now have fire codes for commercial artificial plants to help stop fire related accidents and injuries.

What makes non fire resistant silk plants so dangerous?
Silk foliage branches are made from plastic and polyester fabric. As you might suspect, fabric is easily susceptible to ignition and the plastic burns quite easily. So when ignited, silk plants can spread a fire quickly and the plastic can produce a large amount of deadly smoke. See real life examples of silk plant fires and the dangers associated with using non fire retardant silk plants.

Who determines whether silk plants must be fire retardant?
The majority of states have adopted state fire codes that specifically address the laws concerning the use of artificial plants and the fire test requirements they must pass.

What fire resistant tests are required for silk plants?
The fire tests required can depend on a number of factors but the most commonly cited fire tests are the NFPA 701 and the ASTM E84. Both of these tests are cited by the most adopted state fire codes which are the International Fire Code and the NFPA 1 Fire Code.

What do the silk plant fire tests measure?
Depending on what test is performed, the test measures the flame propagation and the smoke generation of the material. This data is measured in order to answer a few questions; 1) if the product were to ignite, will the product self extinguish or will it spread the fire and 2) if the product were to ignite how much smoke is created from the product burning. The following fire retardant silk plant specification guide provides additional details regarding applicable fire tests for silk plants.

Who enforces the use of fire resistant silk plants?
The local fire official having jurisdiction over the project will enforce the building fire code requirements and ensure products comply with the code.

How does the fire official ensure products comply with the code?
The fire official will require that the product manufacturer supply the appropriate fire test certificate that complies with the fire code. In addition, the fire official may perform a field fire resistance test on the product to validate the certification. This silk plant fire test video demonstrates the most commonly performed field flame test for silk plant foliage.

What if I installed non fire resistant plants but they are required?
From experience, this can be a costly mistake depending on what the fire official requires from you to remedy the situation. The most common scenario we have experienced is the fire official will require all the fire resistant product be removed and replaced with compliant products. This is not only costly because the product must be remade, but can really be costly if the project will not be allowed to open without compliant products.

How is artificial foliage made fire retardant?
There are two ways to fire retard artificial foliage. The safest and most effective way is to make the foliage fire resistant during the injection molding process. This process blends the fire retardant chemical with the fabric and plastic or PVC parts while the materials are still in raw material form. Once injected, the fire protection is inherent (ThermaLeaf® - Inherently Fire Retardant) in the leaves and branches. The other process for fire retarding foliage is a post-production application in which the foliage is treated by spraying or dipping the foliage in fire retardant chemical. See a side by side comparison of these fire safe plant applications to learn more about ThermaLeaf®.

More information about fire retardant foliage:

Fire resistant plants overview >
Fire safe plant applications: ThermaLeaf® vs. Topical >
State fire codes for flame retardant plants >
Silk plant and tree fire tests >
Non-fire retardant plant and tree risks: real life fire examples >
ThermaLeaf® Fire retardant foliage specification guide >

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