Man’s ability to harness fire has arguably provided the basis for human civilisation. It brought mankind light, heat and the capacity to cook. However, natural disasters and accidents unfortunately mean it has also brought about destruction and even death. Even today, fire still demands respect and preventative actions to minimise its destructive potential.
Unexpected or uncontained fire can cause large-scale destruction, injury and loss of life. It is therefore vital that everything practical is done to minimise the risk of fire and, in the event that fire does happen, to help minimise and contain its spread as much as possible.
By helping to prevent fires or reducing their rate of spread, effective flame retardants can extend the time available for action and intervention. This makes flame retardants an essential layer of fire safety strategies.
Fire retardancy – a technique that dates back more than 3000 years
There is evidence – dating as far back as the Ancient Egyptian civilisation, some 3000 years ago – of mankind using treatments and coatings to reduce the flammability. They were known to have soaked the reeds and grass they used for building in seawater, impregnating them with mineral salts to provide fire retardancy qualities. The Chinese and Romans civilisations also regularly soaked wood used for construction in an alum solution to improve its resistance to fire.
Fire retardancy remains vitally important today – indeed it covers much wider aspects of our lives. We work, we travel, we carry electronic devices, and we rightly expect the setting and the equipment to be a safe as possible. In addition, we take it for granted that we can use routinely use a wide range of electronic devices within these settings. Yet without adequate flame retardancy, all of these could pose a potential fire hazard. The same applies to the furniture and furnishings that surround us.