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NFPA 701

NFPA 701 - Use the results of NFPA 701 to assess the propagation of flame of various textiles and films under specified fire conditions. The test methods included apply to curtains, window shades, draperies, table linens, textile wall hangings as well as to fabrics used in the assembly of awnings, tents, tarps and other similar architectural fabric structures and banners.

Fabrics used in most public spaces (including schools, churches, auditoriums, theatres, and more.) is required by law in many states and cities to be certified as flame retardant, according to standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA has various standards depending on how the fabric will be used. In the case of draperies, curtains, and similar hanging textiles, the standard that applies is NFPA 701: Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films. This test measures the flammability of a fabric when it is exposed to specific sources of ignition. 
NFPA 701 (Small Scale) testing measures the ignition resistance of a fabric after it is exposed to a flame for 12 seconds. The flame, char length, and flaming residue are recorded. The fabric will pass the test if all samples meet the following criteria:

  1. An after flame of less than 2.0 seconds
  2. a char length of less than 6.5”
  3. the specimen does not continue to flame after reaching the floor of the test chamber
Fabric certified as flame retardant is certified to have been tested and passed the NFPA 701 test.