How Does FR Clothing Work?

How Does FR Clothing Work?

Your workwear can protect you from severe burns. However, it can also increase your risk of severe injury in the event of a fire if your clothes lack proper fire retardant and flame-resistant materials. That’s why it’s important to wear flame-resistant (FR) clothing when working in potentially dangerous areas where sparks and flames are present. FR clothing is made of flame-resistant fibers that allow it to resist ignition or quickly self-extinguish if it does catch fire. The fibers also resist melting, tearing, or breaking and are thermally insulated to protect the wearer from heat and life-threatening burns.

Everyone wearing this PPE needs to understand how it is used on the job, so they know what to do in an emergency. Learning everything you need to know about FR clothing can protect you from the threat of heat and flames.

What is FR Clothing?

Flame-resistant clothing is protective gear that won’t continue to burn once the source of the flame or heat has been extinguished. If you are exposed to fire while wearing these clothes, the clothes will not catch on fire, even if the fire itself continues. Injuries can still occur but tend to be less severe because the clothing will not catch on fire or self-extinguish, unlike non-flame-resistant clothing.

Clothing without these protective properties can pose a significant risk as it can continue to burn long after someone is exposed to a fire source or extreme heat. This is because common fabrics, like cotton or polyester, conduct heat and can contribute to fueling the fire, causing the fire to spread around the person’s body. The fabric can also melt into the person’s skin, adding to the severity of their injuries. In some cases, non-FR clothing can continue to burn until the flames have consumed all the fabric.

FR clothing has lower susceptibility to catching fire compared to non-FR clothing, primarily because it’s made of materials less conductive to heat. However, FR clothing can still burn if it comes in direct contact with an open flame or enough heat is applied. If it catches fire, the team can focus on eliminating the fire source instead of worrying about their entire uniform going up in flames. This equipment gives the workers more time to escape the danger zone or put out the fire.

Fire resistant clothing comes in many forms, including FR shirts, jackets, jeans, pants, overalls, gloves, hoods, and other accessories. FR clothing is frequently utilized by professionals working in industries and occupations. This includes individuals employed in the oil, gas, and mining sectors, as well as first responders and maintenance workers.

How Does Fireproof Clothing Work?

Fireproof clothing works by inhibiting the conduction of heat and electricity through the fabric, which reduces the likelihood of the clothing catching fire. If the clothing does ignite, its design restricts the burn to the specific area exposed to heat or flames, preventing the fire from spreading to the entire garment or causing it to melt onto the wearer’s skin. This feature helps minimize the risk of severe injuries. It also maintains its integrity and protects for as long as possible until the flame can be extinguished.

What is FR Clothing Made of?

FR clothing is often made of fabrics that are inherently resistant to heat and flames, such as Nomex, Kevlar, and Modacrylic. It can also contain less flame-resistant fabrics such as cotton, which are then treated with special chemicals to increase heat resistance. Both types of clothing work largely in the same way and may offer the same level of protection.

Flame resistant clothing is not the same as arc flash clothing, which comes with varying levels of protection. Arc-rated (AR) clothing receives an arc flash rating based on rigorous testing for a demonstrable level of protection. All arc rated clothing is inherently flame resistant, but not all FR clothing has an arc rating. Both FR and AR clothing items can be identified by their labels.

FR workwear can last anywhere from 12 months to four years, with the proper care and maintenance. Review the product’s manufacturer guidelines for care instructions as well as the service life of your garment. Disposable FR clothing may be beneficial for certain jobs. Inspect for any signs of damage to your FR workwear prior to each use, and know when it’s time to repair or replace your FR garments.

Workers should keep this information in mind when using FR clothing. It’s important to remember that safety workwear and clothing can still catch fire in certain situations, so everyone should use extreme caution in confined spaces and regularly test the air for flammable gases and combustibles. Teams should also have a well-defined escape plan in case of a fire and be equipped with the necessary tools to extinguish fires if they occur.


Sep 13th 2023 PK Safety Team

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