All 8mm and 16mm film types are produced on 'safety stock' film comprised of either acetate or polyester base film. This means that they have a very low flammability rating and are generally very safe.
However, some film stock produced prior to 1951 has a cellulose nitrate base that is chemically unstable and highly inflammable. It burns easily due to the fact that nitrate will carry on burning with or without oxygen in the air.
If you think you have a reel of nitrate film it will probably be on 35mm film stock. You should immediately move it outside to an isolated secure cool area in a vented container and then contact your nearest specialist film archive for more information. Archives from around the UK can be found at the
British Universities Film & Video Council
77 Wells Street
Tel +44 (0)20 7393 1500
Fax +44 (0)20 7393 1555
There is also a Health & Safety Executive leaflet available on
the dangers of cellulose nitrate film. To download it go to: www.hse.gov.uk
For more information on the British Film Institute and to see some classic films go to: www.bfi.org.uk