Will home fire retardant spray give you more time to escape?

Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 8:29 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2018 at 10:27 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When fire breaks out, every second counts.

More than 1,700 people died in house fires across the county in 2017, and there is very little time to get out of a burning home.

That troubling statistic can be avoided, and there's a product that promises to slow a fire from spreading if it's sprayed on couches, curtains or any other flammable material in your home.

But, the big question is does it work?

"Those extra couple of seconds, those extra couple of minutes, could be the life-saving time period between someone dying in that fire and somebody's life being saved," firefighter T.J. Martin said.

Firefighters helped test the home product against the manufacturer's promises.

No Burn's product line of paint, fabric and wood sprays is one of many on the market referred to as "fire retardants." No Burn says its products are nontoxic, lab-tested and effective in slowing down a fire.

"It could definitely save lives - not just the homeowner, but also the firefighter," Dean Troyer, of No Burn, said. "Just give you more time, give the firefighters more time to get there, do their job and keep the damage to a minimum."

But how much extra time can the flame retardants provide?

Using two chairs and curtains, the product was put to the test. One set was left untreated and another set was sprayed with No Burn fabric fire protection.

A cotton curtain treated with flame retardant  didn't burn the way cotton would be expected to do.

"Cotton has more tendency to spread a little more, but as you can see, the material extinguishes itself in a relatively short period of time," Martin said. "But because of the treatment that was placed on the material, we're having a little more difficulty initiating a fire."

The untreated curtain went up in flames in a matter of seconds.

The treated curtain was barely burning after two minutes, whereas the treated curtain was fully engulfed in under a minute.

Henrico Fire said those 30 seconds could make all the difference.

"Wire fires how they are now-a-days, every second counts," Rob Rowley, with Henrico Fire, said.

A similar reaction occurred with the chair.

The untreated chair was burnt to a crisp in less than three minutes. But with the treatment, the chair is still unburned after four full minutes.

"The flame spread is not as accelerated as it would be for a nontreated material," Martin said. "We;re slowing down the impingement of the flame directly on the fabric and we're slowing down the progression of the fire."

No Burn is odorless and colorless. It can be purchased on Amazon for about $20, and it is also available in retail stores.

But, even with a protective treatment, firefighters say there is no better plan for surviving a fire than having an escape plan and a meeting place away from the building.

"You notice there's a fire in your house, and you rapidly get your family together," Martin said. "Get your meeting point outside, and get out, and get 911 on the way."

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