It’s Halloween and the press, social media and TV are once again highlighting the flammability danger of children’s fancy dress costumes.

Toy or clothing?

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Warren Pickstone, Head of Protection at the Chief Fire Officers Association said: “People don’t understand the dangers of these items – they’re classed as toys which are regulated so they won’t choke children and are easy to throw away. If a costume catches fire they can’t do that.”

“We are asking for them to be classified as night wear, which is much more fire retardant,” Warren added.

Heathcoat 1808 Flare Free fabrics are independently tested to conform to EN71 part 2, but they go a stage further and are tested to the British Retail Consortium guidelines, meaning that Flare Free products exceed the much tougher flammability requirements of the nightwear standard BS5722.

In a powerful demonstration of the products’ fire retardant properties, a video has been released comparing the burn time of a child’s tutu purchased in the UK with a similar tutu made from Flare Free dress net. The video starkly shows that a typical child’s costume offers no protection to flame and will fully combust in a matter of seconds, while the Flare Free equivalent will not burn.

Philip Wignall, Business Manager for Heathcoat Fabrics, believes the current European EN71 regulations for safety requirements in toys which covers flammability are not adequate to protect people’s safety, especially children. He said: “The video demonstrates that there is a definite need for more stringent controls over flame spread. Other than our Flare Free fabrics, all alternative dress nets available for children’s costumes will simply combust in seconds, offering no protection

The Federation of British Retailers has proposed recommendations to modify EN71, but it would be good to see more stringent legislation specifically relating to apparel, similar to BS5722.

Flare-Free with no detectable formaldehyde

Heathcoat 1808 has gone a step further with ‘Flare Free’ and is also making a range of its fabrics available under their Zero4 brand. This technology has been eight years in development to create fabrics with less than 20 parts per million of formaldehyde, which is a non-detectable level.

Philip Wignall explains: “While formaldehyde has been used for decades in washing powders and clothing, it is flammable, emits carbon monoxide when heated, and has been found to be toxic and corrosive. In 2014 it was classified as a Carcinogen Category 1B in the European REACH framework. While the risks from apparel are low we have invested in developing our Zero4 brand, giving consumers more choice in what they wear.”
Look for our labels for your assurance of product safety:

A wide selection of our bridal, prom and costume, dance fabrics are available to purchase at: or contact our dedicated multi-lingual sales team with your specific requirements