Flame retardancy of polymeric materials is conducted to provide fire protection to flammable consumer goods, as well as to mitigate fire growth in a wide range of fires. This paper is a general overview of commercial flame retardant technology. It covers the drivers behind why flame retardants are used today, the current technologies in use, how they are applied, and where the field of flame retardant research is headed. The paper is not a full review of the technology, but rather a general overview of this entire field of applied science and is designed to get the reader started on the fundamentals behind this technology. This paper is based upon presentations given by the authors in late 2009 at the Flame Retardants and Fire Fighters meeting held at NIST. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.