Dust Collector Filters: Fire-Retardant vs. Fire-Resistant

AirMax filters are fire-retardant to ASTM standardsPeople tend to automatically equate fire-retardant with fireproof. But in reality, nothing is completely fireproof. If you raise the temperature high enough, any material will either burn, melt, or vaporize. All that is needed to start and sustain a fire is a source of fuel, oxygen, and ignition. So what does it mean when a dust collector filter is labeled as “fire-retardant?” And does “fire-resistant” mean the same thing?

The literal definition of “fire-retardant” describes synthetic fabrics and chemically-treated substances that are not readily susceptible to fire. So if a flame is held to a fire-retardant dust collector filter, it can still ignite. The dust itself is flammable. However, the protection offered by a fire-retardant filter is that it is designed to prevent or slow down combustion and reduce the intensity of a fire.

Fire resistance, on the other hand, is defined as the ability to self-extinguish within two seconds or less once the flame has been removed. But bear in mind that there are different thresholds of fire resistance. For example, one product may be fire-resistant to 2,000°C for 1 hour, but it may fail if you lengthen the amount of exposure time or increase the heat. Regardless, fire resistance offers an additional layer of protection.

All of AirMax's dust collector filters meet the fire-retardant standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). In order to protect your fire-retardant filters more, some applications may need a spark arrestor and/or a fire suppression system. Respectively, these devices are designed to extinguish sparks before they can ignite the filter and cut off the oxygen supply that may be fueling the fire. Whenever operating your dust collector, always put safety first!