Background of Fire Retardant Coatings


Fire retardant coatings are formulated to delay ignition and reduce spread of flame along a surface. The first patent was issued to Albi in 1948, making fire retardant coatings a relatively new industry.

Combustible interior finishes have historically been a major factor in the high death tolls due to fire - due to role of finishes and furnishings in flame spread and flash over. For example, in 1988 NFPA reported 67% of all fires are started on decorative materials -upholstery, drapes, carpeting, wall coverings and mattresses and on exposed timbers in attics, basements and garages.

The ability of the coating to slow the rate of flame spread measured by ASTM 84, called the Steiner Tunnel Test (also known as NFPA 255 and UL723). Fire resistant coatings are also evaluated by ASTM El 19 to determine period of resistance to a standard exposure before the first critical point in behavior is observed.

Growth Potential of Fire Retardant Coatings Industry

The largest market place is those facilities and structures that are already existing, which are regulated by codes and standards. Typically, these facilities include all residential structures, such as houses, camps, cottages and mobile homes, as well as existing commercial and public structures such as hospitals, hotels, health care facilities, prisons and educational facilities.

Total Market Estimates

SRI reports world flame retardant market is $1.2 billion per year. US has 40% or $450-$550 million. 28% of the world flame retardant market is in West Europe, 22% in Japan and 10% in the rest of the Far East Growth of this market is forecasted by SRI at 8%/year throughout the 1990's.

Four end markets comprise the primary uses for flame retardant chemicals: plastics, textiles, paint for wood/paper and paint/coatings. Plastics appear to be the fastest growing and most profitable market (BCC).

The estimated US consumption by end use of flame retardant chemicals shows that plastics comprises 82% of the total end use (by pounds) and totals 512.3 pounds of chemical. Wood/paper, paint/coatings and textiles together form the remaining 21% of the consumption. This dominance by plastics is reflected in total market size with 80% of the market size being dedicated to plastics with a total of $454.4 million in 1995 and $528 million in 1998. Again, wood/paper, paint/coatings and textiles together form the remaining 20% of the total US market, which is estimated at $567 million in 1995.

Phosphorus-Based Flame Retardant Market

Within the large market of plastics as an end-use, phosphorus-based chemicals are used in fire protection in acrylics, nylons, polyesters, polyurethane, styrene and FVC. Phosphorus-based flame retardant chemicals are not used in epoxies, phenolics, polycarbonates, polyethylenes and polypropylenes.

Estimated Use of Phosphorus-based Flame Retardant Chemicals

  • Acrylics 20% phosphorus-based
  • Polyurethane 25%
  • Nylons 15%
  • FVC 50%
  • Polyesters 20%
  • Styrene 10%

Published reports of phosphorus-based flame retardant consumption are not available. However, BCC estimates 60 million pounds of US phosphorus will be used in production of phosphorus-based flame retardant chemicals in 1993. Pricing of phosphorus-based flame retardants varies widely. Industry trends are expected to be tied to the less expensive grades. BCC estimates the average price per pound of all phosphorus-based flame retardants is $1.20/pound or a 1993 market size of $72 Million.

Within phosphorus-based flame retardant chemicals, plastics comprises 66% of the end use at 44 million pounds/year' in 1995. Wood/paper comprises 20% of the end uses and totals 13.1 million pounds/year in 1995. Paint/coatings and textiles comprises 10% and 5%, respectively, totaling 6.6 million pounds/year and 3.0 million pounds/year in 1995, respectively (BCC).

BCC believes "phosphorus-based flame retardants are believed to be ready to penetrate a broader market range than has traditionally been the case". This position is largely, in part, because of the reduced environmental impact from its manufacture, processing and use. Because smoke from phosphorus-based flame retardant is less dense than those, which use halon, phosphorus-based flame retardants are preferred. Increasing interest in reducing smoke obscuration and corrosivity is helping to drive this market and create opportunities for phosphorus additives in addition, phosphorus-based flame retardants do not require XXXX oxide, which is difficult to handle and has caused health and safety concerns.

The BCC report on flame retardant chemicals projects a 7% increase in growth from 1993 to 1998 for the use of phosphorus-based chemicals in plastics and a 5% growth in all other end uses, averaging a 6% growth for the phosphorus-based flame retardant industry.

The previously reported consumption translates into a 1995 market size of $53.3 million in plastics, $18.1 million in wood/paper, $7.9 million in paint/coatings and $4.0 million in textiles. The 7% and 5% growth in plastics and other end uses, respectively, result in a 1998 market of $64.4 million in plastics as an end use, $18.1 million in wood/paper, $9.0 million in paint/coatings and $4.5 million in textiles as end uses.

BCC estimates that new non-halogenated phosphorus-based flame retardants will drive a healthy 6% annual increase in consumption through 1998, resulting in consumption of 80 million pounds in 1998 for a marked to $96 million.

Paint/Coatings Market

Of the flame retardant market, the paint and coatings portion of the market is estimated by the National Paint and Coatings Association as a billion gallon/year industry. According to Kenneth Zacharias, Local Association Liaison, National Paint and Coatings Association, "the current breakdown is 46% trade sales, 38% product finishes and 16% special purpose coatings...and only a fraction (less than 1%) represents the fire retardant market." These figures translate into 1.6 million gallons/year production of fire retardant coating. BCC reported flame retardancy has not been an urgent topic in the paint/coatings industry recently because of severe pressure to remove volatile organic compounds and other environmental sensitive materials from their formulations.

Kenneth Zacharias typifies the paint industry as mature, slow growth industry, one which "maintained a steady rate of increase, slightly above that recorded by the national economy" (from Fire Retardant Coatings - Market and Industry Perspective, in the Handbook of Fire Retardant Coatings and Fire Testing Services, 1990).

Toxicity Issues Relevant to FR-101

One of the advantages of FR-101 is the lack of toxic chemicals in its formulation, because the trend to increasing reporting and regulations of chemicals is clear. The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 7, 1994) noted that the Environmental Protection Agency proposed doubling the number of chemicals whose release into the water or air must be reported to the agency by manufacturers - from 320 chemicals up 313 to 633 chemicals. The data which results from such reporting have been a significant prod to industry to reduce emissions, serving 5 an "eye opener to lots of CEO's who are embarrassed by the publicity the findings receive" according to Carol Browner, EPA Administrator. In addition, the EPA planned to propose a regulation, which expands the number of industrial sectors that must report to the toxic release inventory to include utilities, wholesale distributors and mining concerns.

The Fire Retardant Chemicals Association newsletter (March 1994) reported that EPA was seeking congressional authorization to study the elimination of chlorine's uses, to minimize its use in pulp and paper manufacture, drinking water and groundwater treatments, plastics and solvents. While there was a broad-based business community campaign in opposition, environmental activists have a similar effort in support of chlorine elimination.

The New York Times (March 9, 1993) noted that "the earnings of Smokestack America seem likely to face new setbacks because of future liabilities for cleaning up the environment, according to a Price Waterhouse survey". The survey of manufacturing and public utilities found that 62% had material and undisclosed environmental liabilities. This suggests that the environmental costs have yet to be passed through the financial statements of numerous publicly traded companies. Senior staff at Price Waterhouse predict "the environmental issues will not have as broad or sweeping an impact on earnings and equity as health-care cost standards, but it could be troublesome for companies with inherently dirty processes and time bombs in the form of old waste disposal sites".

Several major components of fire retardant chemicals are coming under close scrutiny. Bromine is one of those components. The National Toxicology Program at Research Triangle Park noted that carcinogenic activity was clear when adults were fed polybrominated biohcavis: Firemaster PP- 1. (Technical Report on the Perinatal Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Polybrominated Biohcavis, Firemaster PP-i (Aug.93). According to Karen Lindsay, in the Feb.94 issue of Modern Plastics, efforts to restrict some brominated additives are forcing several manufacturers to consider using "non-controversial" flame suppressants. The point-of-view among end users is that the most reasonable solutions are a shift to non-scrutinized non-PBOF and bromine-free additive systems. This view of not universal, however. Ethyl, for example, produced additives with some of the above (from Bromine Debate Compels a Re-examination of Flame-retardant Systems).

Jan Schut reports in Plastic World, Mar 95, (How Green is your Flame Retardant?) that the health and environmental issues related to the use of the polybrominated flame retardants are still the main concern among European countries and affect the marketing of some US products. There is difficulty in finding replacements exhibiting or even exceeding the performance of brominated flame retardants and the ways to process these replacements. Among those considered as alternatives are phosphorus-metal hydrate and nitrogen-based flame retardants. The potential of silicon flame retardants is also being investigated.

Environmental, health and toxicity issues are important to the flame retardant business and are likely to increase their influence on the industry's direction by acting to push growth to less toxic formulations. For example, EPA required manufacturers of eight brominated flame retardants to develop analytical methods for determination of ultra trace levels of polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDD). and polybrominated dibenzofurans (PBDF) in commercial products and to report test results of sampled products to EPA. This is the result of toxicology studies pointing to adverse effects of the chemicals. As a result of the testing requirements and controversy regarding the toxicity and of the smoke, environmental concerns drive consumers away from brominated flame retardants and to less controversial compounds (BCC report).

Tests similar to those required for brominated flame retardants are required for chlorinated chemicals. Germany will limit the PBDF and PBDD in a 3-year phase-out period. Chlorine-based flame retardants are also limited by environmental concerns because of their halogenated hydrocarbon status and because of concerns regarding smoke toxicity (BCC report).

Codes Relating to Fire Retardant Coatings

Regulations and standards will continue to drive the flame retardant industry. Regulations regarding interior finishes and treatments of furniture are particularly relevant.

Fire retardant coatings are specified in codes under Fire Performance of Materials. Interior finishes are prescribed under this heading. By definition all coatings may be viewed as an interior finish. BOCA defines an interior finish as including all wainscoting and paneling or other finish applied structurally or for acoustical treatment, insulation, decoration or similar purpose. Each code has a table, which shows the class of finish materials acceptable in different occupancies.

Construction types within the Life Safety Code are regulated by NFPA 220, Standard on Types of Building Construction, NFPA 703, Fire Retardant Impregnated Wood and Fire Retardant Coatings for Building Materials address interior materials. The California State Fire Marshal also approved fire retardant coatings (Reg. No. C-44). Tests are often conducted via ASTM-84. Fire retardancy of materials may be specified in a variety of places within model building codes developed by BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) and by ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials #2900, for example) in such places as Fire Performance of Materials, Material Properties, Existing or Renovated Buildings. Under most conditions, exposed materials such as wall coverings and ceilings used in commercial buildings are required by the various building codes to be a Class A material.

A New York State regulation requires floor and wall coatings to be tested for toxicity of their combustion products. Requirements for smoke are typically limited by the building codes to materials such as foam plastic and materials used within air handling spaces.

Exterior materials are addressed by NFPA 299 Protection of Life and Property from Wildfire and numerous state and local codes such as California State Public Resources Code 4291.

The California Bureau of Home Furnishings (CBHM) released Technical 116, 117 Bulletins (also known as TB 116, 117) which require testing of furniture cushioning materials against cigarette ignition. TB 121 tests for ignition of mattresses in penal institutions, jails and prisons. This is often used for public facilities, which include health care facilities, old age convalescent board and care homes, college dormitories and residence halls. TB 129, the first draft of a new flammability standard for mattresses used in public buildings. The American Society for Testing and Materials (A5Th4 is considering a generic version of TB 129. TB 129 is expected to gain acceptance and approval in the next 3-5 years (Gordan Damant and Said Nerbakhsh, Developments of Furnishing Flammability Standards for Public Buildings and Private Residences, undated).

TB 133 outlines a series of comprehensive burn testing procedures that include smoldering/char ignition, full--flame ignition and "intentional" burn testing for such occupancies as hotels, stadiums, hospitals and auditoriums. TB 133 is now mandatory in California and several other states for specific public buildings. The National Association of State Fire Marshals believes TB 133 is likely to be the de-facto national standard. Because this test incorporates smoke requirements, it is a driving force behind the move away from halogenated flame retardants.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulations FAR 25.853 regulates materials used in compartment interiors of all passenger aircraft. However, no materials currently comply with the regulations. The international regulatory setting affects the flame retardant industry in the US. The UK regulates furniture through 1988 legislation which requires upholstered furniture meet both open flame and smoldering ignition standards. This requirement also applies to used furniture. Most of the new flame retardant product introductions that have occurred recently stem from the UK government's 1988 decision to legislate for improved fire performance of domestic furniture (from Flame Retardants Cooling Down as Europe Ponders Regulatory Action by David Reed in Feb-Mar 1995 issue of Urethane Technology).

The European Upholstered Furniture Directive has been in a state of flux. The initial draft directive was withdrawn in Feb 1993, not reinstated as of March 1994. However, the research program done by an 11-partner consortium was completed in 1995. The German Dioxin Ordinance prohibits halogenated flame retardants within Germany; Holland has the same prohibition. As a result of environmental issues, environmentally friendly resins which do not contain halogenated chemicals are increasing in number and volume in the world plastic market (from Synergists For Flame Retardant Phosphate Esters by Seong-Jun Kim and Young Sun Park in ANTEC 95).

Since the promulgation of the UK and European regulations, there has been pressure for some sort of harmonization of the requirements within the European community. Debates on the effectiveness of the UK approach have slowed down the market process at creating a harmonized European directive. Since the flame retardant market tends to strongly reflect national regulatory requirements, developments in the technical area have been accordingly slow (from Flame Retardants Cooling Down as Europe Ponders Regulatory Action by David Reed in Feb-Mar 1995 issue of Urethane Technology).

In contrast, Arie Hochberg and Joan Glogosvsky report in "Key Properties of FR Engineering Thermoplastics for Demanding Applications" (ANTC95) that the last few years the flame retardant manufacturers introduced many new and effective additives for the plastic industry. While there are many reasons for the proliferation of the flame retardant compounds, a major driver is the concern about toxicity of the chemicals used in the retardant. The need to replace DBDO (low molecular weight brominated flame retardant additive) due to the new European laws is an example of one of these reasons.

Lastly, deterioration of structural integrity because of chemicals in the flame retardant may cause a shift to those products which can maintain product strength. Time magazine, April 23, 1990 noted that a fire-resistant plywood used in nearly 1 million roofs east of Mississippi had to be replaced because sun triggered a chemical reaction which cause the roofs to blacken, decay and eventually collapse. Further, the Technical Supports Services Program of Ontario Ministry of Housing concluded through an evaluation of the long4erm effect of fire retardant chemicals on the structural integrity of wood members? that many products were not suitable for Ontario's climate and suggested limitations of the use (from Study on Fire-treated Wood Assembly: Potential deterioration of Assembly Elements by I. Ibrosvi).

Competition in Fire Retardant Coatings

According to BCC, the major producers of flame retardant chemicals are characterized as large companies which produce many products and have many industries. They typically have annual sales in excess of a billion dollars. While some of these producers have decreased their investment in flame retardant chemicals, others are increasing their commitment to the business. Since entrance barriers are not high, some large companies are integrating "backwards" into production of the flame retardant chemicals themselves. New players in the market will generally seek to occupy specific niches and specialize. Nineteen companies are listed as Fire Retardant Coating Companies in the Handbook of Fire Retardant Coatings and Fire Testing Services.

For every new product, the status quo seems to be the biggest competition. Alumina trihydrate (ATH) comprises almost 1/2 the consumption of flame retardant chemicals by pounds. The estimated US market size and growth by phosphorus-based flame retardant chemicals is estimated at $81 million in 1995, $96 million in 1998. These figures are from a total market size of flame retardant chemicals of $513 million in 1993, $567 million in 1995 and $658 million in 1998.

BCC estimates that seven manufacturers produce 95% of the phosphorus-based flame retardants used in the US. Both Akzo and Albright ; Wilson produce 30% of the US market. FMC, Himont and Hoechst Celanese each produce 15%. Great Lakes and Monsanto each produce 5% of the US market. Fire retardant competitors are manufacturers of phosphorus-based and water-based fire retardants from Monsanto and Dupont, firms which are quite large and very chemically diversified. Competition has marketed their fire retardants through licensed lumber treatment centers strategically located throughout North America according to demographics and geographics.

There is very limited competition in the fire retardant industry within the wood/paper market for existing structures as well as new construction. It includes materials such as dimensional lumber, plywood, particleboard, OOSB board and cedar shake shingles. The market has been dominated by five main competitors: Koppers, PPG, Hoover, Osmoes and Arnox. All use the pressure or vacuum impregnation process. These processes have been determined to have strength loss, toxicity and corrosion problems.

A few new products have been promoted through the popular press.

Business Week (Dec.17 1990) reported that Ival O'Salyer of University of Dayton Research Institute invented a fire fighting material which forms a protective Thermal insulating barrier when sprayed on the roof of house. The barrier may be washed away "harmlessly" with water. The material contains mono ammonium phosphates, sugar, urea??? and a blowing agent. The article notes the product was developed under contract with the US Navy ; US Air Force. Several companies are negotiating to commercialize the products the material can be used with.

Business Week (Nov.27 1989) notes that fire-retardant materials save lives by giving people more time to escape. However, they acknowledge that with most fire-retardant treatments, the more fire-resistant they are, the more they produce deadly smoke. No Fire, a new paint produced by Transaction Security Inc. in Upper Saddle River, NJ promises an unusually long-lasting fire barrier via an intumescent coating. No Fire contains ceramic fibers to prolong the coating's ability to withstand flames. The treatment is said to shield plastics, wood up to an hour. The product is licensed to Greyhouse Electronics, Inc. in Toms River, NJ.

The Aviation ; Week and Space Technologies (July 24, 1995) reported that currently the only protection against compartment fires is from hand-held extinguishers. Investigation into the use of kevlar blankets with silicone coating is ongoing as a fire retardant.

Despite the above articles, no other company currently makes a coating which is as easy to apply with a long shelf-life, ease of storage, non-toxic and treats both wood and fabric. No other non-toxic non-stiffening fabric treatments is listed in the Handbook of Fire Retardant Coatings and Fire Testing Services. The following companies produce products which may be considered competition:

1. American Varrag Company. Inc. (Ridgefiled, NJ) makes EXOLIT ALBERT-DS Clear and DS1 1-Clear which are foam forming fire retardant coatings for wood, hardboard, cellulose board and other wood derivatives and plastics. The product can be applied by brush, roller or spray but must be heated to 110-150 degrees F. to spray. Coverage is 100-150 sq. ft. per gallon. Results of ASTM is Flame Spread 20, Fuel Contributed 10 and Smoke Developed 10. No information on toxicity or flash point. The product is effective but not durable, sugar-based and requires protective coating for best results.

2. Barnard Products. Inc. (Covina, CA) makes 2 clear penetrating Fire Retardant Preservatives. Bar Flame is 606G is for use on unsealed shingles, shakes, siding, telephone poles and posts. Bar Flame 606H is to be applied to unsealed rough sawn wood cork or interior surfaces porous enough to penetrate. Only meets Class II fire spread rating.

3. Fiber Materials. Inc. (Biddeford, ME) makes FR203, FR304, an off-white Water-Based fabric and carpet latex coating based on vinyl chloride acetate latex. UL ratings, fire spread rates and toxicity information are not available.

4. Fire Research Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) makes several products. FireLab Stilcoat 2000 is a semi-clear or translucent coating for roof timbers, floors, rafters, support members, on kitchen cabinets, dividing walls around space heaters, furnaces and heating plants, compartmented living areas, in corridors, stairwells and building exits. It is a acrylic modified vinyl acetate latex intumescent coating for fire retarding and heat insulating. It is to be applied 2 coats each 4.5 to 4.8 mil thickness, with 275-350 sq. ft. per gallon per coat. Class A rating achieved with 150 sq. ft./gal. Flame spread 15, smoke development 10.

Firelab Fabric Treatment is aimed at the decorative trade and fabric industry. Natural and synthetic textile materials, leaving treated fabrics with no stiffness and no apparent residue. The coating does, however, require 2 coats, then 1-2 weeks drying time for final finish. Synthetic fabrics requires about twice as much as natural fibers. 1 gallon effectively treats 300 sq. ft. of 8 oz/yd cotton fabric. The product is applied by dipping or spraying. Spray equipment should be equipped with a stainless steel or plastic reservoir and dipping vats should be constructed from plastic or stainless steel. While toxicity information is not available, above instructions imply the product reacts with metals. While the product UL listing and Flame Spread Rating is not available it is approved by the California Fire Marshal.

FireLab Wood Saturant is a clear, odorless, non-toxic fire retardant resin for unsealed wood. This product can be painted, varnished and stained just like natural wood, applied at two coats at 200 sq. ft. per gallon over coat. Application is done via spray, roller or brush. Spray application requires a feather-pattern nozzle with 400-1200 psi pressure at the tip. Allow 1-3 hrs drying between coats, dry to a complete finish in 48 hrs. FireLab Shingle Safe is a clear water-based fire retardant for use on wood shakes and shingles. Shingle Safe is applied on one coat because the treatment seals the shingles and prevents further absorption. Coverage is 50 - 100 sq.: ft./gallon applied with high or low pressure spray equipment. UL listings and Flame Spread Ratings are not available but FireLab products are approved by the California State Fire Marshal.

5. Flame Control Coatings. Inc.(Niagara Falls, NY) makes Flame Control No.10 as a clear fire retardant penetrating wood treatment recommended for exterior use on previously treated cedar shakes and shingles. Properly treated wood will char but not support combustion. Coverage is 150 sq. ft. in 2 coats at application rate of 300 sq. ft./gallon via brush, spray or dipping. Allow 24-48 hrs. between coats. Clean-up must be done with xydol, toulene, Aromatic 100. Performance is Class II, with Flame Spread Rate of 35, Smoke Developed 690 and Fuel Contributed 10. (Used under NFPA 703, Section 2-2.1.3 Class B). The product contains combustible or flammable solvents. Keep away from heat, sparks and flame. Avoid prolonged contact with skin. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist. Flame Control No.10 also need Flame Control 40 to achieve Class A rating.

Flame Control No.5 which is an exterior fabric flame retarder for fabric which may be exposed to weather such as welding curtains, canopies, dividers, awnings and tents. Coverage is 450 oz. of cotton duck per gallon by spray, brush or dipping. Cleaning must be done with xydol or (Exxon) Aromatic SC-100 solvent. UL listings and Flame Spread rates are not available. (Used under NFPA 701075). The product contains combustible or flammable solvents. Keep away from heat, sparks and flame. Avoid prolonged contact with skin. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist.

6. Flame Stop. Inc. (Roanoke, TX) makes Flame Stopl, which is a biodegradable, colorless retardant used on any type of wood or porous material. Recommended for use on interior application on all absorptive materials such as drapes, wallpaper canvas, carpets, bedding, clothing, wood decor, furniture, cotton muslin, paper/straw, most synthetics, redwood cedar, douglas fir. This product can be applied with a hand sprayer or by dipping, brushing or adding to the laundry cycle. Allow 6-8 his. for drying. Performance is Class II, with Flame Spread Rate of 35, Spoke Developed 15. Meets Interim Fed. Specs TTP 001932 GSA-F55, US Testing Co., Inc. Class B., UL 723, NFPA 703, UBC 2, NFPA 101 and 255, ASTM E-84 (Class B), Fabric Testing - California Title 19 and NFPA 701.

Application is 200 sq. ft./gallon. Flame Stop II is used both indoors and outdoors, penetrates wood surfaces. It can also be applied to fabrics used for exterior purposes such as awnings. Application is 125 sq. ft./gal. This product is applied by spray, brush or roll application. Allow 6-8 hrs. for drying. Performance is Flame Spread Rate of 25, Smoke Developed 100. Meets US Testing Co., Inc. Class A, UL 723, NFPA 703, UBC Class II rating, NFPA 10) and 255, ASTM E84 (Class B).

7. FlamOrt Chemical Company (San Francisco, CA) makes Flamort WC, which is a latex white coating to be used on unfinished interior wood, plywood acoustical board, insulation board, cellulose board, fiberboard, excelsior, wood shavings and paper. It is available in ready-to-use solutions or as dry compound to be dissolved in water. It can be used in office buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, theaters, where fire hazards are to be considered in specifications. For wood, coverage is 110 sq. ft./gal., for paper - 400 sq. ft./gal., for corrugated paper board coverage is 300 sq. ft./gal. The product flakes after applications. Flame Spread Rates are not available but they are classified by Underwriters Laboratories, Approved by California State Fire Marshal (Reg. No. C-44) and 2280-002.1, International Conference of Building Officials #2900, Government of District of Columbia, City of Los Angeles Report #23922, City of New York Board of Standards and Appeals #684-63-SM, Building Code Committee, Dayton, OH, City of Hartford, CN and City ; County of Denver, CO. While chemical components are not available, probably contains halogens because another product is claimed as halogen-free.

They also make Flamord No.6-3 Halogen-Free Coating is clear, for use on interior unfinished wood. It does not contain Chlorine, bromine or sulfur compounds. The wood can be stained or varnished after treatment. Coverage and application methods and Flame Spread Rates are not listed. Flamort No.6-3 meets City of Los Angeles Report No. 23922 and California Fire Marshal (Reg. No. C-4-16).

8. Ocean Coatings. Inc. (Savannah, GA) makes a fabric retardant Ocean FFR22 which has a shelf life of 12 months. fabrics are to be dipped for 15 minutes then air dried. Clean-up is with (Exxon) Aromatic 100 or Xydol. Recoat every 2 yrs. Increasing stiffness will be noted in fabric. Dry cleaning is not recommended. Flash point is 105 degrees F. UL listing and Flame Spread Ratings are not available but meets ASTM-D-626-41T (treated specimens retained fire resistance after 2-4 wks. immersion). For handling eliminate ignition source. Avoid heat, sparks, Flames. Store in cool place. Avoid prolonged breathing of vapors. Keep container closed.

Conclusion Regarding FR-101 Fire Retardant Coating

FR-101 is an extremely useful product which has great promise to capture a large portion of the fire retardant coatings market I would recommend and have recommended use of the product to several clients. This product is worthy of investment.

The consumer-cased market has not been successfully filled, perhaps because of toxicity issues or ease of application or because of deleterious effects of the substrate. FR-101 has overcome those limitations so is a very desirable product to the direct consumer for protection of children's clothing and interior coverings, Christmas trees and areas around fireplaces and stoves. Application by homeowners of decks and exposed wood is another market which FR-101 can dominate because of its effectiveness, ease of application, cost and non-toxicity. Local regulations are increasingly stringent about exterior exposed woods and retro-fitting existing structures is likely to be required in the near future.

Large commercial applications may form the bulk of sales. However, because of millions of square feet being constructed which require fire retardant interiors. Again, the lack of toxic chemicals makes retrofitting ideal for hospitals and nursing homes, child care facilities and other high occupancy buildings. Ease of application drastically reduces overall costs to the consumer of making interiors fire retardant.

retrofitting can make substantial sales to developers which wish to construct with wood sidings. Siding is commonly required to be non-combustible, which has limited architectural retrofitting retrofitting can allow a greater range of designs, which is likely to foster home sales.



3D Foam / Product Description

Our 3D Foam is a Class "A" & "B" fire fighting agent formulated using a proprietary blend of non-hazardous inorganic salts, surfactants and water. 3D Foam is unique in that it is 1) a Class A & B fire extinguishing agent which extinguishes fire in both solid and liquids, 2) a petroleum dispersant, 3) an acid neutralizing agent and material spills remediation, and 4) does not contain any carcinogens or any chemicals listed by EPA as hazardous. It is earth safe! In addition to its capabilities as a Class A and B foam, a fire retardant is added to prevent re-ignition.

3D Foam may be used to disperse hydrocarbon spills on land or water. It may be used to neutralize common acids. In fire fighting it may be used on all types of petroleum and will extinguish petroleum fires at .1 gal. per sq. ft. of water and 3% agent or less. Metered agent rate to water at 3% to 6%. Fire fighting uses of 3D Foam included A & B fires, including tires and flammable/combustible liquid fires. It also acts as an excellent extinguishing agent in fighting forest fires as well as structural fires.

Application rates range from 1% to 6% concentration. The concentration of the fire extinguisher is 2%. These application rates allow use of existing nozzles, and all Class B proportioners and all Class A proportioners that meter up to 1% concentration.

Usable Equipment for 3D Foam:

  • Vehicles: All existing fire appliances classified as structural or aircraft crash.
  • Fireboats: All models as long as agent injection or induction equipment is available.
  • Fire Nozzles: All types, air aspirated or non-air aspirated.
  • Foam induction, injection equipment: All models hand-held sprayers. All available models will perform adequately for small application.

There are no restrictions to storage or handling, the foam may even be used after freezing then thawing, and will not develop distasteful odors when heated. No limitation to shelf life has been determined during the several years in which it has been produced.

Evaluation of the Market

We see the commercial market of 3D foam in three separate categories:

1. Head-to-head competition with existing Class A foams
2. Head-to-head with existing Class B foams
3. Unique niche where a combination Class A/B foam is desired.

Where no new equipment is to be purchased (proportioners) for Class A foam.

Where applications (such as tire fires or trans-ocean shipping or airport protection require

We will discuss each of these separately because the growth potential for each is distinct

Background of Class A Foams

While Class A foams have been available since the 1960's, the foam was not accepted initially because of market barriers: uneven performance, handling procedures and high concentrate ratios required (3-6%). Those same categories form a basis of comparison today. New Class A foams have consistent performance, easy handling and low required concentration rates.

While wild land suppression agencies began to use Class A foams in the late 1970's the use of this type of foam has spread to be widespread among municipal fire departments as well.

Growth Potential of Class A Foam Industry

Foam manufacturers have experienced a dramatic increase in sales of Class A foam during the past three years. For example, Monsanto has doubled in sales each year for the past three years. There are at least two reasons for the increased sale of foam. First, nearly all federal and state fire agencies not using Class A foam prior to this time are now using it. Second, only a small fraction of municipal and rural departments throughout the country were using Class A foam 10 years ago and now a strong movement toward adopting Class A foam has begun.

The market for a Class A foam will continue to grow at a very fast rate because: (1) There are hundreds of municipal fire departments without Class A foam capability that will soon convert to Class A foam. A good example of the switch to Class A foam is the Los Angeles County Fire Department This department has equipped 64 engines with Class A foam and will soon have a total of 120 within a few weeks. (2) There is a critical need for foam fire protection in the urban wild land interface, which is growing nationwide. The values at risk due to the wild land/urban interface exceeds several trillion dollars. Application of Class A foam in this circumstance is not only done by municipal and wild land fire departments but also citizens. This market may be substantial, for 10,000 homeowner protection units are estimated to be sold in California alone in the next two years and each will be installed with 5 gallons of foam. (3) Strong interest in Class A foam from foreign countries, in the scale of 1 million gallons per year. Foreign markets for Class A foam is very large and there are worldwide applications. Canada is continuing to develop improved application methods, including optimized fixed-wind aircraft to wild land fires and tire fires with fixed wing foam drops. Canada buys Class A foam from American companies. Australia is now in the process of implementing new Class A foam technology. All Australian states except one will only use foams approved by the USDA Forest Service. Because 3M manufactures Class A foam in Australia, its product is currently being tested by the USDA Forest Service. 3M plans to market the foam in Australia and Canada.

Codes Relating to Class A Foam

International Class A foam specifications are administered by the USDA Forest Service. The National Fire Protection Association Standard NFPA 298 is similar to the international Class A foam standards. The following forms have been approved for use by the USDA Forest Service: Ansul Silv-Ex, Fire-Trol Fire Foam 103, Phos-Check wd 881,Fire-Trol fire foam 104, Angas ForExpen S, Pyrocap B 136 and TCI Fire Quench. Chubb Terrafoam is now in the late states of a series of filed tests. It is assumed that approval will be provided by the 1996 fire season.

Competition in Class A Foams

Currently, several large companies have dominated the Class A foam market. The estimated 300-400,000 gallons of foam sold annually is generally equally split between Monsanto, Silvex, Angus, Chetronics.

While they may have brand name preferences, generally firefighters throughout all city, county, state and federal agencies collectively consider all listed Class A foams to be roughly equal except for Pyrocap B136, TCI Fire Quench and TerraFoam.

Fire personnel are discovering that Pyrocap B-130, TCI Fire Quench require concentrate ratios of 3% or more to develop any type of foam despite manufacturer's claim of 1% or less. Currently most aspirated nozzle systems can develop good foam at 0.5% and Compressed Air Foam Systems can develop a wide range of foams at only 0.2% or 0.3% ratios. The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are two of the largest wild land suppression agencies that do not allow the use of Class A foam above 1% Class A foams currently in use reach maximum performance levels at 1% so if ratios of more than 1% are used it is considered a waste of concentrate and money.

Tests indicate that Pryocap B-130 does not perform as an acceptable foam or suppressor. Acceptable foam could not be produced in this test even at ratios greater than 3%. The National Fire Administration has been assigned to conduct an extensive comparison study of all Class A foams as a result of the dispute which arose between the testing agency and manufacturer regarding the product's performance.

TCI Fire Quench, made by the Texas State Prison System has been received well by East Coast fire departments, but many firefighters and experts consider Fire Quench similar to wet water concentrates. Apparently, foam cannot be produced with aspirated systems, but can be produced under limited conditions with compressed air foam systems and by concentrate ratios well above 1%. The product is considered limited to short term use on grassy fuels.

TerraFoam is an attempt by Chubb Chemicals to build a long-term foam. It is a protein-based foam which Chubb claims will last up to 72 hours. TerraFoam has been tested for at least two fire seasons, in prescribed fires and on structure fires, where the longest foam retention recorded was 36 hours. It has an obnoxious odor that many firefighters cannot tolerate. At lease one report indicated that some firefighters became ill from the fumes and odor. The foam apparently stained three houses that were foamed to protect them from an encroaching wildfire.

Long-term foams are very desirable for the suppression and control of wildfires and ideal for the protection of structures. It is believed that most companies which currently manufacture Class A foams have some form of program to develop long-term foams.

Toxicity of Class A Foams

Humans - Currently Class A foams are not considered toxic to humans. The federal fire agency guidelines for use of foam are contained in the publication "Chemicals Used in Wild land Fire Suppression, A Risk Assessment", 1994. Research indicates that the currently available chemicals pose a very low or non-existent risk to firefighters and handlers of Class A foam. Some researchers have suggested that humans have been. exposed to the same type of chemicals such as detergents, soaps and shampoos for nearly 50 years and the population shows no ill effects for side effects.

Fire and Aquatics- Research does indicate that Class A foams are harmful to fish and other aquatics and some plants. Studies of toxic effects to the environment, humans, plants, vertebrates and invertebrates are incomplete. Studies clearly show that fish can be killed by Class A foams. Studies commissioned by the US Forest Service and the National Biological Survey Office definitely indicated toxic effects on fish. Class A foams can kill fish if the foam is put directly into bodies of water at rates less than 1%. If foam is introduced into a stream or body of water the foam would need to be diluted 500-fold to reach a 96 hour LC5O concentration.

Plants - A desirable effect of Class A foam is the ability to remove the cuticle or waxy flannel covering from leaves, needles and stems of some plants. While in some instances leaves will curl and brown up after a few days, within a few weeks new, normal leaves appear. One report indicated foam drops in Spain resulted in apparent stress on trees for up to four months. Only a few specific plants appear to show visible signs of damage or any effect. Observers have noted in some cases Class A foam increases the growth of plants by making water more available to root systems.

The toxicity of Class A foams has restricted their use: while foam has been widely applied by helicopter-slung buckets, the bucket may not be dipped into a natural body of water after it has been exposed to foam (this requires setting up a temporary reservoir and drafting from the natural body of water - this is relatively easy for small buckets, but a difficult task for large, Chinook-slung buckets). Fire agencies are to avoid introducing foams directly into bodies of water. There are no know actions by EPA or OSHA to further restrict or control the use of Class A foams.

The following are individual chemicals found in foams and related suppressants that pose hazards due to their low LD's or reportable requirements to EPA and/or OSHA.

1. Sodium Hydroxide
2. Diammonium Sulfate
3. Hydroxypropyl Guar
4. Guar Gum
5. Sodium Fluorosilicate
6. Formaldehyde
7. CI Basic Red
8. Eucalyptus
9. Methylene Bis (Thiocyanate)

Chemicals that are suspected carcinogens:

1. Sodium Ortho-phenyphenate
2. Mercaptobenzothiazole
3. AAClay
4. Formaldehyde*
5. CI Basic Red
6. Alkyl Diethanolamide*
7. Merccaptobenzothiazole
8. Hydrotreated Kerosene*
9. Mineral Oil
10. OlefinPolymer

*Conclusive evidence or other laboratory indicators

Performance of 3D as a Class A Foam

3D foam has not yet undergone the same tests as other Class A foams, so rigorous comparisons are not possible. Considerations in performance are:
  • knock-down time
  • re-kindle potential
  • concentrations
  • toxicity
  • drain down time
  • handling ease (including odor, viscosity)
  • dry/wet range
  • storage

Initial tests and in-house results indicate 3D has excellent handling ease, superior storage ease, no toxicity and a wide range of dry/wet capabilities. In addition, 3D foam has a fire retardant additive to prevent re-kindle. The effective concentrations are higher than most other Class A foams. However, lower unit costs partially offset the concern.

Conclusion Regarding Class A Foam Market

3D foam is likely to compete well in those areas where municipal departments do not wish to purchase different equipment to handle other Class A foams. The consumer-based market (which is enormous) has not been approached by any of the major foam manufacturers, so 3D foam is well positioned to capture that market via the home fire extinguisher or via other delivery methods.


Background of Class B Foams

Protein foams were developed in Europe in the early 1930's. Chubb National Foam developed an alcohol-compatible foam in 1952. The US Navy developed the first AFFF in the early 1960's. In 1965 Chubb National Foam developed fluoroprotein foams. FFFP was tested in Holland as late as 1982.

Class B fires involve burning liquids, which include acetone, benzene, ethanol, gasoline and toluene. Class B foams are surfactants (the same as Class A foams) but designed for the suppression of liquid fires. Some Class B foams (especially AFFF) create a protective film to exclude oxygen. Others simply build a three-dimensional blanket to smother fires. Some Class B foams are effective at a concentration rate of 1% (only AFF) to 6% depending on applications, others are effective between 3% and 6%.

Growth Potential of Industry of Class B Foams

Only ten of every 1000 fires involve liquids. However, fires which do occur often require massive amounts of Class B. These include petroleum fires in refineries, tire fires after they become liquid, and car, boat and airplane fires where gasoline is involved. Much more Class B foam is sold than Class A foam.

When a refinery fire occurs, it is not unusual to use 10,000 to 20,000 of Class B foam concentrate for each tank fire. Where fires involve more than one tank, the amounts of Class B foam employed dramatically increases. Because of this, refineries are expected to have as much as 50,000 gallons of Class B in storage (50,000 for alcohol-based fires and 50,000 gallons for petroleum-based fires).

Major amounts of Class B foams are used for training and testing of facilities such as in refineries and at airports.

A steady increase in the use of Class B foams can be expected given the continual increase in number of oil refineries and oil-based distribution, as well as increased number of vehicles and use of airplanes. However, the toxicity of Class B foams currently on the market limits their use and their potential market.

Codes relating to Class B Foams

Application rates follow NFPA Standard 11.

Competition in Class B Foams

The most common Class B foams are:
  1. AFFF: Aqueous Film Form Foam (also called Light Water)
  2. AR-AFFF: Alcohol Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam
  3. AF-FFFP: Alcohol Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Fluoroprotein

Several large Class B foam manufacturers dominate the market. Angus Fire produces alcossel 3-6% and AR-FFFP. Chubb National Foam developed and produces both protein foams and fluroprotein foams. 3M produces ATC Light Water AFFF.

AFFF has the fastest knockdown abilities and Fluoroprotein foams generally provide the best post-fire security (they prevent re-kindle). AR-FFFP was developed in an effort to combine the advantages of the AFF's and Fluoroproteins.

The Aviation Week and Space Technologies (July 24, 1995) reported that FireStopper Type B has been demonstrated by NEMA Fire Fighting Products of Santa Ana, CA as a Class B foam replacement This product is a water soluble product which is non-toxic and degrades into nitrogen fertilizer. The product forms a film which has endoThermic properties and prevents evaporation of hydrocarbons. No special equipment is required for application and less mix is needed to knock down fires compared with current foam Systems.

Warnings have been issued by the manufacturers of Class B foams about the tendency for the new anti-pollution additive to gasoline MTBE. MTBE apparently breaks down foams. Class B foams have been modified to meet this problem. 3X3 and 3X6 foams have either 3 or 4% polar solvents added to counter this problem.

Fluoroprotein foams have poor burn-back protection capabilities (when compared to synthetic AFFF foams) because when part of the foam blanket is removed, the exposed flammable liquid can be ignited.

Like protein, Class A foams, Class B protein foams also have unpleasant odor. In addition, it has a short shelf life and older protein concentrates are corrosive to plumbing. American Petroleum Institute reported highly volatile fuels such as regular unleaded gasoline were difficult fuels, and ineffective where ethanol comprised more than 10% of the fuel.

Costs of other Class B foams are $18.00 to $20.00 per gallon.

Feedback from firemen indicate that Class B foams are becoming more of a liability than a help due to the toxicity risk. The use of some Class B foams on a fire may cause an environmental problem. Of the 165 engines in the Los Angeles County Fire Department, only one is equipped for Class B foam capability, however many more carry foam a five gallon container of concentrate for use with an eductor. The equipped engine has the dual purpose as a HAZMAT cleanup vehicle. The use of as little as five gallons of some Class B foams may result in a hazardous spill as defined by EPA. Nearly all fires on which Class B foams are used become hazardous chemical spill emergencies. Glycol ether, which is contained in some AFFF foams has been recently targeted as a hazardous substance by the EPA. Any spill that exceeds one pound of escape over a 24 hour period is reportable. A penalty of $10,000 fine is levied for failure to report.

Most protein foams are 9-18 times less toxic than synthetic detergent Class B foams and are 1.3 to 1.9 more biodegradable.

Toxicity to Bacteria (LC10)

AR-AFFF = .6 to 6.0 ppm
Synthetic AFFF =30 to 2000 ppm
Protein =2000-7500 ppm
FFFP =7500 ppm

Toxicity to Alga (LC10)

AR-AFFF =8 to 38 ppm
Synthetic AFFF =8 to 36 ppm
Protein = 10-509 ppm
FFFP =35 ppm

Toxicity to Waterflea (EC10)

AR-AFFF= 12 to 75 ppm
Synthetic AFFF =20 to 300 ppm
Protein =200-3700 ppm
FFFP =3700 ppm

Toxicity to Fish (LCO)

AR-AFFF=52 to 100 ppm
Synthetic AFFF =100 to 2000 ppm
Protein =500-10,000 ppm
FFFP = 10,000 ppm

Robert C. Andrews, P.E. chief of the Refinery Terminal Fire Company in Corpus Christie, TX wrote a comprehensive study on the environmental considerations regarding the use of Class B foams. He states in a condensed version in the Nov-Dec. 1992 issue of Industrial Fire Safety:

"In the future virtually all fire training academies using flammable liquid and fire fighting foam concentrates will be under increasing pressure to improve their operations environmentally."

"The use of fire fighting foam concentrates may upset municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities."

"Fire agencies may have enough foam concentrate in inventory to require them to report the ownership of one or more toxic chemicals under SARA Title III."

Foams applied at emergency fire incidents may be discharged at rates comparable to small rivers. In such cases, the "slug" of foam that initially enters the water may have a concentration in excess of 10,000 parts per million, as was the case in Switzerland in 1987 when a foam "raft" was accidentally discharged into a river and resulted in a fish kill.

Performance of 3D Foam as a Class B Foam

3D Foam has not yet undergone the same tests as other Class B foams, so rigorous comparisons are not possible. Considerations in performance are:
  • how well the film seals vapor (single most important factor)
  • how does it handle a punch-through (does it re-seal)
  • knock down time
  • concentrations
  • drain down time
  • dry/wet range
  • re-kindle potential
  • toxicity
  • handling ease (including odor, viscosity)
  • storage

Initial tests and in-house results indicate that 3D Foam has excellent handling ease, superior storage ease, no toxicity, and a wide range of dry/wet capabilities. In addition, 3D Foam has a fire retardant additive to prevent re-kindle. The effective concentrations are the same as other Class B foams, and will compete well on a cost basis.

Conclusion Regarding Class B Foam Market

A non-toxic Class B foam has great advantages, especially in off-shore (oil platforms, trans-ocean shipping) and coastal applications. Toxicity may be an overriding concern in future purchasing decisions for protection of oil-based facilities near the coast, or in densely urbanized settings. This 3D Foam may have a substantial market for merchant shipping. Freighters and container ships would benefit greatly from a single agent available for fire suppression. Some vessels have AFFF engine room fire suppression systems and tankers have systems for deck fire suppression. Limited shelf life for current agents favor 3D foam.

The long shelf life of 3D foam is a very strong advantage, perhaps as significant as the toxicity issue, in all applications. Class B foam customers can buy less if they buy 3D Foam because of the shelf life issue. A combination Class A & B foam is especially advantageous for hydrocarbon based solids, to include all plastics and rubber. This translates into protection for tire fires, as well as plastics manufacturing.

Additionally, almost all of the hundreds of thousands of municipal engines carry a 5-gallon container of Class B foam and an eductor. Where concern regarding subsequent clean up of a toxic material is important, a non-toxic Class B foam is preferred. This is especially true for the hundreds of thousands of small, rural, or volunteer fire departments.

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