View Full Version : Need your help finding F/R vaccuform!

06-08-2010, 09:33 PM
We really want to use vaccuform panels on a lot of our walls at Folklore, but our fire marshal requires us to have a class "A" outer surface on any interior trim. Do any of you know of a vacuform panel that is capable of holding up to this standard?? If so, I would really appreciate some suggestions. And, I don't mean a panel that claims to be fire retardant, I am referring to one that actually is. Our fire marshal requires us to submit samples of wall panels to them to put in a burn tank, and they light a 1 foot tall pile of hay right up against the wall to test it. They leave the fire there for 5 minutes, and when the pull it away, if the flame doesn't go out immediately, we can't use it.

We really need your help on this one. Come on guys, give us some good suggestions!!!


Allen H
06-08-2010, 10:01 PM
send this info to someone with a machine, it can be vacuformed.

06-09-2010, 04:23 AM

Thanks for the info. I will check that out. I think though, that the problem I may have is that I need to get a sample panel made to submit to the fire marshal for testing before I agree to buy 100 or more of these from a vendor, and some vendors may not be willing to fork out the money for this material knowing that there is a possibility that I will not buy more if the panel fails the test. I have run into this problem with one of the vendors already, because he would have to buy a ton of this plastic material, and it probably wouldn't be worth it for him if I am the only one buying the fire rated panels.

I will check with this company to see if I can get a small sample of their material and send it to one of the well known panel producers and see what happens.

You would think that every panel sold in this industry would be fire rated. This is something that all vendors need to consider, because the fire rating is the first thing I look at now before making a purchasing decision.

I will follow up on Allan's suggestion, but in the mean time, if anyone else has another idea, please let me know.


06-09-2010, 05:50 AM
Have you thought about spraying them with no burn and testing them? Shane and its where are our vacuform dealers at on this subject? Shane this time!

Allen H
06-09-2010, 07:11 PM
Can you send the info to your fire marshal to look at, they seem to be very ands on so maybe they want that level of involvement. Do ask for a sample, the shape does not really affect the flammability (to much). I bet they can send you to a local plastic sullpier who can sell you one sheet.
If you have isues after making a few calls then PM me and I will make a few calls for you.
Allen H

06-12-2010, 12:23 AM

Here are my thoughts:

I fear I may be in the same situation with our FM or worse because we are in Cobb Co. They are notoriously known for being very strict with haunted houses and fire codes.

First, I would try and get a large sample piece of plastic from the manufacturer and try painting it with the fireproof paint additive. Most of them claim they will give a treated surface a class 'A' flame spread. Light it up. Do your own test. If it catches fire easily and burns, obviously, it will not hold up to their specifications and tests.

If that doesn't work call Ben Armstrong at Netherworld and see what he recommends. His place is about 75% covered in Vacuform. Find out what they do and then take that to your FM. I realize you are in two different counties but I can't see how one FM would allow it in the big city and not for you guys out in the country. If anything I would have thought it would have been the reverse.

Last and final straw would be to call Universal Fire Shield. They have a product called ABS-300. It is specially formulated to flame retard plastics for commercial, industrial, and government projects. It says it dries to a smooth, hard, gloss finish. I'm not sure the gloss finish is what you're after but maybe it can be toned down with paint. I haven't used it before and I couldn't find a price for it anywhere online. It may be a custom product that they only sell to contractor's or something.

Let me know what you find out. I'm going to be in the same boat!!!


Gore Galore
06-12-2010, 06:17 AM
Here is the main issue we are dealing with regarding the fire rated panels.
FR plastic is much more expensive.

But here is what we are looking at.
I have been doing some research into this very same issue

Some of the plastic we are considering is made from virgin ABS regrind. The panel that was ground to make this panel meets an HB certification. So therefore the panel also meets the HB certification without being certified. But I am not assuming anything. I have forwarded the certification and a letter from the supplier of the plastic to the fire marshal, and I will supply the fire marshal with a sample of the plastic for testing if necessary.

The best thing to always do is take everything questionable to your fire marshal and have it tested. The more involved you make him feel the better you will be treated.
And any company who is not willing to send you a sample of material in order to earn an order of 100 panels is goofy. They are earning the order and that is called customer service. I would think that a vacuformers supplier would also be willing to send a sample in order to get a nice order of plastic.
But I could be wrong.

06-13-2010, 03:44 AM
The panels that we have dealt with that are truly fire retardant are beaded in the plastic. It is easy to get the stuff but the cost is crazy. You are looking at a $100.00 retail panel costing about $200.00
We can paint ours with fire retardant just like every other item in our haunt.
This stuff melts into soup... I haven't been able to catch it on fire yet but I think I am going to give it a shot. I have not been able to find a fire rating on standard panels just an ASTM melt rate.
Let me know how your Fire Marshall will test it and what type of open flame he will use and I will give it a shot. I can cut you scrap and send it in the mail.

06-13-2010, 08:29 AM
Have you thought about spraying them with no burn and testing them? Shane and its where are our vacuform dealers at on this subject? Shane this time!

Buy all that you think you'll need of the vaccuform, then spray it with F/R, in fact on The Darkness DVD Larry suggest "drenching" everything with F/R. I don't know right off hand how much or big the container(s) of F/R is, but you may need to buy several gallons of the stuff.

John Elks
Death Row- Sanitarium of Slaughter

06-13-2010, 10:48 AM

The problem here is that fire retardants are specifically formulated mostly for either fabric or wood. I'm not sure how one that's formulated for these applications would work. On your wood walls, no problem. Other thing the FM will be looking for, will this plastic give off fumes or toxic substance once melted?

I agree with tonguesandwich. Best route is try the paint additive and see if that will suffice.


06-14-2010, 11:31 AM

The problem here is that fire retardants are specifically formulated mostly for either fabric or wood. I'm not sure how one that's formulated for these applications would work. On your wood walls, no problem. Other thing the FM will be looking for, will this plastic give off fumes or toxic substance once melted?

I agree with tonguesandwich. Best route is try the paint additive and see if that will suffice.


See, as far as I knew F/R was good for everything, I didn't know there were several kinds made for different things.

06-14-2010, 06:30 PM
Sorry I have been absent I have been extremely busy.

Flame retarding plastics and foams is tricky, especially dangerous are syrofoams that release toxic gases. Carving foam and just painting isn't the best plan. Frankly if you are cutting Styro you better have good ventilation from the start or you could injure yourself.

The first step is to hard coat the foam so that is cannot just break off, exposing a flammable interior. To coat plastics like Vacuform normal clear sprays like Fire sheild and such don't do much they just run off. They (pyrolics - sp?) work well on things they can soak into like wood and fabrics. For foams or Vacuform you need a fire retardant that puffs up and forms a barrier, an Intumesent (sp?) style. This is very expensive. We use Flame Control 20-20 and it costs well over $60 per gallon ( It might be close to $70 now) You can special order it from Sherwin Williams.

Any foam that comes into our show to be used as an interior finish, lets say a Tombstone, gets some sort of hard coat, and then it and any Vacuform gets coverage with the 20-20. THEN they get re-painted to fit the theme.

Fire treating plastics and foams is difficult and expensive and it is no joke. We save all the cans we ever used and there are a lot let me tell you, untold thousands and thousands have been spent on treating vacuform alone, not to mention the time it takes to treat and re-paint.

I don't think there is anything you can mix with paint that will work but I don't know - new stuff comes up all the time. After an exhaustive search the Flame Control was what our Fire Marshall approved 13 years ago.

20-20 applied correctly should work I would think IF tested according to the standards set forth by fire code. Remember anything burns. I suggest you learn those standards and test the material yourself to be sure. Then you might want to pay a lab to carry it out correctly and sign off for legal and insurance purposes.

Good luck

06-14-2010, 08:44 PM
We use fire retardant that mixes in the paint. We do go around with a spray bottle before inspection and hit all the real flammable stuff just in case.
On items painted with fire retardant paint we have been asked to tape the fire retardant info sheets to the back of them. We also have a tendency to lay spent containers of fire retardant laying around (Accidentally of course).
We had no problem passing and they actually used my haunt to do rookie training in. Which I didn't know about until after the fact.
Vegas is super tough on fire regs..... most haunts are lucky to open.

06-14-2010, 09:33 PM
To Clarify:

This is what we use on Plastics and other hard non absorbant materials. We often go through up to a 55 gallon drum per year on everything else of spray on Flame Stop.

06-16-2010, 09:53 PM
I appreciate your advice on this matter. I apologize for not responding to all of you sooner, but I am out of town this week with limited computer access.

Ben, do you do your own hardcoating, or do you hire a company to do it? If you hire, who does it here in Atlanta? I have talked to some people, but they are taking their time getting back to me.

The company I work for (The day job) is heavily involved in processing foam and plastics, so I met with one of the salesmen today about my problem. He is going to see if he can come up with something to help us.

We had a lot of success using the New York Fire Shield black intumescent paint on a small chunk of foam, so as soon as we get our drum in, I may try to coat the leftover panels with that. I'm not sure if it will stick, but it's worth a try. Every thing we coated with this stuff passed the fire marshal's burn test.

The vacuform panel I bought was treated with fire retardant, but it still went up like gasoline. I will check out Ben's suggestion, because I really want to use vacuform.

When I get back into town this weekend, I will follow up on this some more. Please keep your ideas coming, and if I discover a solution, I will be sure to share it with all of you.

Thanks everyone,

06-24-2010, 10:45 PM
Our fire marshal requires us to provide 4'X4' sample wall panels made up like we want to use for his burn test. They stand 2 panels up against each other at a 90 degree angle, and then put a knee high stack of hay up against the corner formed by the two panels. They light it and leave it burning for 5 minutes. When they pull the flame away, if the flame on the wall panel goes out, then it passed. If it keeps burning, then it fails.

The panels we submitted with black intumescent paint would not burn, but the vacuform treated with fire retardant paint did. Ben, we are checking into the product that you recommended-Thanks.

The problem with this test is that it is very subjective. There is no specific way that the fire marshals test you. They have total jurisdiction, and if they don't want you to open your doors, then they can set the test up to be harder. We asked our local fire marshal to get involved, because we wanted to set a good example for the haunt industry. However, the first words out of his mouth was that he did not like haunted houses!!!

Our backup plan (if vacuform didn't work) was to use carve foamed, like in the facade at the Darkness, but we are having a hard time finding a local hardcoater. Obviously, the only way we can use the foam is if it is hardcoated properly. Who else uses hard coated foam in their haunt, and how did you hard coat it??? I want to hard coat some panels and submit to the fire marshal for the next round of testing for a couple of our rooms, but I have to find someone to coat it first.


Gore Galore
06-25-2010, 07:25 AM
hardcoating foam is not so difficult.
There are ALL manner of methods and materials.
And tons of companies who make hardcoating materials.

Epoxy, urethanes, gunite, water based systems, etc...
Many application methods, from hopper guns to hand application.

The important thing is to make sure you make the hard coats thick enough.
I think that is usually where people fail. They try to skimp and then it backfires on them.

I like using gunite, only if you know it will be permanent. It is used alot for custom pools, and they have to do it super thick.

But don't be afraid of it. Just learn as much as you can about it before you try to do it.

06-25-2010, 08:36 AM
Give me a call! Shane and its you got my number! Shane this time!

06-27-2010, 02:50 AM
Damn... you Fire Marshall is tough! Is he a volunteer...could be kickback syndrome.(Not Joking)
What doesn't catch on fire? Go do that test at the fire station to their walls.
Do you know the cert that has you tent material over a bail of hay? Like to know?
I am going to ask around I have tons of firemen in my home base fitness business and my sister is really high up. Just curious where that burn test came from. Does any one else have that drastic of a test?

06-27-2010, 04:04 AM
The fire marshall in question is a State of Georgia fire marshall. He is one of the authors of the Georgia State Fire Code. He was brought in by the county fire marshall because the county guy did not want to take responsibility for a haunt as he had never dealt with one before.