Theatre Stage Drapery Fabrics and Flame Retardants Explained

Theatres, Schools and Event Venues: Be Proactive on Stage Drapery Fire Safety.

Fire Safety on Stages is a real issue. Fires at events are responsible for some of the worst fire related disasters on record. Textiles are highly flammable, add the presence of hot lights, props, and pyrotechnics greatly increases the risk of fire. To prevent this from happening in the future, we have developed regulations designed to protect us from fires in theatres, schools and event venues. However, regulations cannot be successful in saving lives if they are mostly ignored.

Regulatory Summary:

There is no national code, as a result there is a patchwork of regulations, administered at the local state or provincial level. Typically, fire codes reference National Fire Protection Association Standards (NFPA) which sets the standards in America. Canada has adopted it own test standard different than the NFPA 701 standard, entitled CAN/LAN S109. In Europe, there is an EU and British Standard. Some states, notably New York and California, have implemented a higher level of standard than that set out by the NFPA. Also, individual venues, or school boards may have set their own standards as they relate the textiles and their flammability.

Typically, regional state/provincial Fire Code follows the guidance of the NFPA, when it comes to textiles. Here are the textile excerpts from the Ontario Fire Code:

Flame Resistance of Textiles: (1) Drapes, curtains, netting, and other similar decorative materials, including textiles and films used in buildings, shall meet the requirements for CAN/ULC S109, “Flame Tests of Flame Resistant Fabrics and Films”.

Over time, with the accumulation of dust, the original test result is no longer a good indicator of flammability, as a result, the fire code requires certificates to be continually updated
Flameproofing treatments: treatments shall be renewed as often as required to ensure the material will pass the match flame test in NFPA 705, “Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame-Resistant Textiles and Films.

While these little know sections of the Fire Code are easy to miss, things are starting to change. Just because your local fire inspector has never asked before, don’t assume you are covered. Fire Inspectors in the western states, and several provinces are increasingly adding textile and stage drapery flammability to their inspections enforcing the regulations. What’s more, in Ontario, the Ministry of Labour is getting involved in enforcing the fire code.

Types of Stage Drapery Fabrics:

There are two types of flame retardant fabric. IFR and Flame Resistant. Inherently Flame Resistant (IFR) drapes are made of a patented material which has flame retardant woven into the fabric itself. As a result, it does not wash out, however, IFR drapes do require regular cleaning as dust is flammable and can cause IFR drapes to fail flame testing. This fabric is considerably more expensive and does not have the same aesthetic appeal as traditional drapery fabrics.

Stage Drapes manufactured from natural fibers such as cotton are typically treated with flame retardant at the mill. The flame retardants work by coating the flammable fabrics with a mineral based barrier, preventing fire from reaching the fibres. However, flame retardant needs to be re-applied ever 3-5 years to remain effective as it will fall off over time. In addition, if drapes have become wet or have been washed or dry cleaned, the flame retardant properties will have been removed. Non-immersion drapery cleaning is the only method of cleaning drapes which will not remove the flame retardant properties.


When it comes to fire safety, proactive is the only way to go. Be sure to include Flammability Testing of all stage drapes, decorative materials and props into your annual safety inspection regime.

Not sure if your drapes are in compliance? Contact On-Site Drapery Cleaners today to arrange NFPA testing of your drapes..

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What Are the Best London Theatres?

If you are planning a trip to London, then you really want to visit one of the many theaters that are in the city. London is famous for their West End shows. A number of the theaters are located in one central location which has been nicknamed “Theatreland.” There are numerous options available, but the top choices are spectacular offering a variety of shows for those who love musicals to drama to children’s entertainment and so much more.

Thee first and most popular of the theaters that is considered the best of the best is the Royal Opera House in Covent Gardens. This amazing theater is home of the Royal Ballet and they Royal Orchestra. They put on world class performances in a spectacular historic theater which dates back decades. The theater is open daily to the public, so you can explore the theatre, enjoy a guided tour, soak up some of the architecture and haytheatre enjoy a relaxed meal in the restaurant. If you want to enjoy one of the shows, ask your concierge at the hotel you are staying in or you can book online. They offer a wide variety, so you are guaranteed to find something you will enjoy to see during your stay in the capital city.

Barbican Center is another must for anyone who enjoys the theatre. This center is home to a concert hall, two theaters and three cinemas. They also boast two art galleries, so whether you want to see a show or just explore what they have to offer, you will not be disappointed. They are home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and put on a host of shows throughout the year. You will also find a choice of shops and restaurants to enjoy. It’s a great center to visit during the day if you don’t want to see a show, just to have a bite to eat and see some of what they have to offer, maybe browse one or both of the galleries, enjoying a relaxed and cultural afternoons in London.

The National Theater is another of the best London Theaters that you will want to explore when in this busy city. The National Theater has three auditoriums and they provide a variety off programmes. They also have a restaurant, bar and a number of exhibitions which take place throughout the year. In addition to this, the National Theater provides a choice of courses and events for the whole family to enjoy, so it is worthwhile to see what they have on during your time in London.

The Shakespeare Globe is an absolute must when visiting London. This open air theater opens from May through to October each year. It is the reconstruction of the open air playhouse which dates back to 1599. They put on a variety of Shakespearean plays which can be enjoyed out in the fresh air during the warmer summer months.

London Coliseum is another of the best London theatres. This theater is home to the English National Opera and is located in central London. It is the largest theater in the United Kingdom and provides the audience with exciting, fun and dramatic filled opera shows that cannot be rivaled.

Finally, be sure to visit Regents Open Air Theater which opens during the summer months in London. This theater provides a complete selection of shows from comedies to musicals to drama. They also have a host of children’s plays to keep the children entertained during the summer holidays. This theater is complete uncovered, nestled among the trees and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy theater at its best in the heart of London.

Canary Riverside Plaza is a world class hotel located in the prestigious Canary Wharf in London. Set minutes from the Thames River, in the heart of the business district. This elegant and luxurious hotel caters to families, couples, singles and business travelers who want to be in the perfect location when visiting this top city. Canary Riverside Plaza offers elegant rooms, well-appointed with modern conveniences, including free Wi-Fi. The hotel also offers access to the Virgin Active Gym and there is a wellness center on-site. In addition to this, the hotel offers twenty four hour room service to all one hundred and forty two luxury rooms. To find out more or to make a booking.

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