2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Clothing Fire Safety: Do Fabric Layers Matter?

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Uwe Reischl


Fabric flammability can be influenced by factors such as composition of the fiber material, the manufacturing process and additional chemical treatments that are applied to the fabric. The severity of an injury will depend on the duration of the exposure and the temperature of the flames. The objective of this investigation was to identify the flaming characteristics of multi-layered fabric samples. Ninety fabric samples were used in this study including cotton, wool, polyester, nylon and silk. The tests were conducted inside a controlled laboratory environment. The results showed that fabric flame temperatures, as well as fabric burn-times for wool, polyester, nylon and silk, decreased significantly. Therefore, the addition of one and two layers of fabric represented a “protective factor” against burn injury. However, the cotton samples exhibited the opposite. An increase in the maximum flame temperatures and combustion times were observed when additional layers were applied. Therefore, it is important to always include multiple layers when testing for clothing flammability. Fabric layers matter when assessing the injury potential of a clothing fire.

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