Inherently Fire Resistant (IFR)
Inherently Fire Resistant (IFR) is a specific type of Fire Resistant (FR). IFR fabrics are made from fibers which by their nature do not easily burn. Most IFR stage fabrics are made from a polyester fiber, which is strong, durable, and colorfast in addition to being naturally fire resistant. Most IFR fabrics can be wiped clean with a damp cloth without damage to the fabric or its fire retardant rating. Note that we use the terms fire/flame “resistant” or fire/flame “retardant” and not fire/flame “proof”. Under enough heat and pressure anything will burn! While IFR stage curtains are extremely resistant to combustion they are not intended to be a protective device. The intent is for them to not become additional fuel in the event of a fire.
Durably Fire Resistant (DFR)
These fabrics, made from either NFR or IFR materials, have been given a durable FR treatment. The treatment is permanent and typically will not breakdown or come off. For the most part these fabrics are comparable to IFR fabrics but a little more care should be taken before attempting any strong cleaning or activities that may get the fabric wet. Test a sample first before applying to the curtain and be sure to conduct a Flame Test afterward.
Fire Resistant (FR)
FR means that the fabric has passed applicable NFPA testing procedures. Technically, this means any fabric that meets the standard. Informally, we refer to FR fabrics as natural fiber fabrics, such as cotton, that have been treated with a chemical that allows them to pass the applicable NFPA test.In time, these chemicals will break down and no longer be effective. If the fabric gets wet, the chemical may leach out. You might see this as a white chalky line on the curtain, which would indicate testing should be performed.Retreating curtains in the theatre is difficult. It’s messy, and if enough of the chemical is sprayed on the curtain to be effective, the fabric gets so wet it is almost impossible to get rid of the chalky lines. Curtains also tend to look dirty and oily after retreating. Professional cleaning and retreating through BellaTEX is available, but the cost can be almost equal to replacement for many curtains. Very ornate or complex curtains that are expensive to produce can be an exception to this rule.
In most instances, by the time the curtain needs retreating it will have become structurally unsound. In humid parts of the country re-treatment can be necessary in as soon as 5 to 7 years; in dryer areas it may be 10 years or more before re-treatment is necessary.
Note that we use the terms fire/flame “resistant” or fire/flame “retardant” and not fire/flame “proof”. Under enough heat and pressure anything will burn! While FR stage curtains are resistant to combustion they are not intended to be a protective device. The intent is for them to not become additional fuel in the event of a fire.
Non-Fire Resistant (NFR)
NFR curtains are universally prohibited in all public facilities in North America. Due to the wide use of hot lighting instruments, pyrotechnics, open flames, and other fire hazards, the use of any untreated NFR material is not only against the law, but extremely dangerous.The only NFR products BellaTEX, Inc. sells are specifically labeled NFR unpainted drops. Since the fire retardant interferes with the binders of some paints, BellaTEX, Inc. provides drops made from NFR muslin upon request. Before they can be used they must be appropriately treated, either after painting or with a product such as Rosco’s P50 mixed into the paints. The drop should then be Flame Tested in accordance with NFPA standards and to the satisfaction of local fire officials PRIOR TO USE. Most BellaTEX dealers can provide the appropriate paint and paint additive for your needs.