Heat Retardant Ropes: The Whys and Why Nots
Helmets, airbags, child safety seats, carbon fiber-reinforced plastic gears, lightweight body armors, medical devices, x-rays, blood bags, medicines, plastic encased MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). etc., impact our lives every day, same with heat resistant ropes. These innovative products continually advance with new technology to make our lives safer and more secure. Flame-retarded products are emerging every day, but a few persons are using these products; others are ignorant or reluctant.
Fire retardant ropes are classified upon the time, and the temperature it burns: they’re generally characterized by flame retardance and high-temperature resistance. Some cords are naturally fire retardant due to the fiber's natural properties, but you have to use heat retardant treatment for others.
Why do You Need a Heat Retardant Rope?
We undermine the importance or heat resistance in ropes until we’re faced with extreme temperature casualties and now wants an escape rope; unless you want to be raising ladders for every rescue work, for which you still need extreme temperature ropes.
“Flame retardants ropes are effective to reduce fire risks without creating toxic emissions… cotton is much less susceptible to heat…”
Generally, fire retardants are used industrially and domestically to meet flammability standards for ropes, furniture, textiles, building products, and other products. Even government requirement demands interior design ropes, and commercial decorative cords must be flame retardant. Required by most fire marshals, NFPA 701 is the most commonly requested fire test for resistance to flame propagation.
A study from the National Bureau of Standards showed that a room filled with flame-retarded products (a polyurethane foam-padded chair and several other objects, including cabinetry and electronics) offered a 15-fold higher time window for occupants to escape the room than a similar room free of flame retardants.
Also, operations involving high air temperatures, direct physical contact with hot objects, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related damages.
Health and Toxicity? You're Safe!
“…Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were the earliest heat retardants. In 1977 they were banned because of high toxicity…”
Advocates for the flame-retardant industry, such as the American Chemistry Council's North American Flame-Retardant Alliance, and its member companies invest heavily in testing programs to improve their understanding of the science behind chemical product safety.
How about Government Heat Retardant Requirement?
In 1975, California began implementing Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), which requires that materials such as polyurethane foam used to fill furniture be able to withstand a small open flame, equivalent to a candle, for at least 12 seconds. In polyurethane foam, furniture manufacturers typically meet TB 117 with additive halogenated organic flame retardants.
Although no other U.S. states have a similar standard, because California has such a large market, many manufacturers meet TB 117 in products that they distribute across the United States. The proliferation of flame retardants and especially halogenated organic flame retardants, in furniture across the United States are strongly linked to TB 117.
All Materials for Making Rope are not Equally Fire Resistant:
- Nylon has high tensile strength and elastic stretch properties, but low heat resistant
- Polyester is more UV resistant and is more abrasion resistant.
- Manila is naturally heat resistant and is used to make traditional fire service ropes.
- Cotton is less susceptible to heat and abrasion retardant.
- Polypropylene is preferred for low cost and lightweight, but it has limited resistance to ultraviolet light, is susceptible to friction and weak heat resistance.
Natural fire retardance isn’t enough. Every rope serves a specific function, so you won’t replace polypropylene with polyester because of heat resistance and that why you have a variety of premixed fiber treatments for your new rope. Spray these products on your polypropylene.
NB: At Ravenox, we do not treat our ropes with fire retardants at our factory; treat it today for a safe tomorrow.