Over the past centuries, our safety and welfare has been a priority and motivator for change – whether at home, at work or in public spaces. Today, safety is no longer just an option; it is required and expected of every product that we buy, use or find in our environment.
Yet, fire safety is simply taken for granted. In reality, a vast set of new and constantly evolving materials in our homes, offices and means of transport have given rise to a host of new fire safety risks.
The increased use of lighter and more diverse plastics in the production of these products can also make them more flammable, unless appropriate fire safety features are used. As products continue to evolve, flame retardants are important to meet stringent fire safety standards and to reduce the human and economic cost of fires.
Data from the United States shows that the use of multiple technologies to tackle fire safety have led to a decrease of fires by 90% in the last 100 years. Such technologies are fundamental in acting at different stages of fire safety management, from prevention to suppression in case of a fire.
Prevention remains the most important layer of fire protection, not only to reduce the risks of a fire to start in our properties but also to limit the tremendous costs to fight fires. Flame retardants are effective in acting at the prevention phase. By reducing the risk of a fire starting, flame retardants offer substantial safety margins for evacuation in the event of a fire and allow other layers of fire protection (see example below), including detection and fire suppression, to kick in at an early stage.
The 6 layers of protection in a construction building (Prof. Guillermo Rein, Imperial College London, i2a Antimony Day 2018):