CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - When a fire breaks out, every second counts.
"Those extra couple of seconds could be the life saving time period between someone dying in that fire and someone's life being saved," said T.J. Martin, spokesperson for the Parma Fire Department.
A Medina County-based company called No-Burn manufactures a line of fire retardant products that claim to reduce smoke and slow down the spread of flames in the event of a fire, hopefully giving you and your family some extra time to get out alive.
No-Burn's Original & Fabric Fire Protection Sprays (Source: WOIO)
No-Burn says its fire protection sprays are safe and non-toxic.
With the help of the Parma Fire Department, we got to demonstrate the effectiveness of No-Burn's flame retardant sprays in a real burn test.
We purchased a set of matching chairs, a pair of 100 percent cotton curtains and a pair of 100 percent polyester curtains.
We left one of each item untreated and then treated the others with No-Burn's Fabric Fire Protection Spray.
The Fabric Fire Protection Spray currently retails on Amazon for around $30 for a 32 ounce bottle and can be sprayed on upholstered furniture, carpet and curtains.
After allowing our treated chair and curtains to dry for 24 hours, we took them to the Fire Training Academy at Cuyahoga Community College's Western Campus, where we were outfitted from head to toe in protective firefighter gear.
For our first test, we used a flare to ignite the untreated curtain made of 100 percent polyester.
The curtain instantly began to melt.
"Polyester becomes dangerous when it melts and it drops," said Parma Fire's T.J. Martin, who explained that melted pieces of polyester can ignite whatever burnable surface they fall onto and cause a horizontal flame spread.
We then set fire to the polyester curtain treated with No-Burn's Fabric Fire Protection spray.
"As you can see, he's trying to ignite it. With the flame retardant on it, we are unable to get a flame to begin. It is melting the polyester, but we're not able to get a flame started," Martin said.
Next, we tested the untreated curtain made of 100 percent cotton.
In just a matter of seconds, the curtain was engulfed in flames.
"The untreated material caused the flame spread relatively quickly. Within seconds, we had vertical flame spread and total consumption of the drape itself," he said.
We then tried to ignite the cotton curtain treated with No-Burn's Fabric Fire Protection spray.
After two minutes, the curtain was barely burning.
"Because of the treatment that was placed on the material, we're having a little bit more of a difficulty to initiate a fire. It is actually creating some flame spread, but it's not vertically spreading as quickly as it normally would on an untreated material," said Martin. "The material that was ignited extinguished itself within a relatively short period of time."
Martin, pictured above, said that extra time could make all the difference. (Source: WOIO)
"They'll give you those extra couple of seconds to get the family together and get them out of the house," says Martin.
We then headed outdoors for our next burn test, to see how No-Burn's Fabric Fire Protection spray would fare on our upholstered chairs. Just seconds into holding a flare to the untreated chair, the upholstery caught fire.
In less than three minutes, the entire chair was destroyed.
The burning untreated chair emitted a yellow smoke, known as hydrocyanic acid.
Martin said it's caused by burning Styrofoam, foam rubber and plastics, and it can sear your lungs if inhaled.
When we ignited the chair treated with the Fabric Fire Protection spray, it took more than four minutes for the chair to really catch fire.
"The flame spread is not as accelerated as it would be for a non-treated chair," explained Martin. "We're slowing down the impingement of the flame directly on the fabric, and we're slowing down the progress of the fire.
We also tested No-Burn's Original fire retardant spray, which is for use on porous wood surfaces and paper materials, such as wood paneling, interior woodwork, decks and fencing. The Original spray currently costs $18.99 on Amazon.
We pre-treated one wooden palette with a single coat of the Original spray and left another untreated, then set fire to them both.
"This is what's called 'alligatoring' and alligatoring is a deeper char inside of the wood. This material was obviously not treated with the fire retardant," Martin explained while examining the untreated burned pallet.
"As you can see, there is just more of a surface char. The flame did not actually impinge on the wood itself. It burnt the outside, but it didn't impinge the wood itself versus the one that was charred and alligatored," Martin said as he looked at the burned pallet treated with No-Burn.
In all of our unscientific burn tests, No-Burn's fire retardant sprays appear to work as advertised and could give your family extra time to escape a fire.
"We obviously noticed that the ones treated chemically with the inhibitor reacted much greater, much better to the flame spread than the ones that went untreated," said Martin. "The ones that were untreated caught fire more rapidly. The flame spread was more deep than the ones that were treated."
Martin's advice to consumers: "I would say investigates the consumer availability of flame spread deterrents. Something that you could put on your curtains, something you could put on your fabric, that will not damage your fabric but could give you those extra couple of seconds to get out alive should a fire start in your house."