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The “flame resistant” quality of FR clothing refers to the ability of its materials to naturally resist ignition, burning, or melting, while helping to insulate against excess heat. FR clothing helps you escape in time when you’re working in highly flammable areas and a flash fire breaks out.
How long does FR clothing last?
As long as you’ve chosen high-quality FR clothing from trustworthy, experienced manufacturers and are following their guidelines verbatim, your FR clothing could protect you for years. Unless you’re mishandling the garments in a way that would compromise their FR properties (like through incorrect laundering, applying insect repellent to the clothing, or continuing to use a garment that’s been through a fire event), you can’t wear or wash out their effectiveness. If the garment shrinks, tears, gets a hole or spot, is involved in a flash fire or short-duration thermal exposure, or otherwise becomes compromised, remove it from service. If you’re going to patch FR clothing, make sure you use the same fabric the garment is made from, use FR thread, and replace any buttons with high-temperature melamine buttons.
How do I wash FR clothing?
Your flame resistant clothing should come with specific manufacturer directions for laundering, and you should stick to those when possible to keep your garments safe and effective for years. While the flame resistant properties can’t be “washed out” of FR clothing, these garments still require different care than civilian clothing due to their protective properties.
Luckily, most FR clothing can be washed easily in a home or industrial washing machine. If you’re in an industry that’s heavy in grime or tough buildup, an industrial machine might be better, but a home machine can handle everyday dust and dirt (just don’t mix FR clothing in with your everyday clothing wash). When washing FR clothing, don’t use chlorine bleach, fabric softeners, anti-static or wrinkle-free dryer sheets, or starch: these chemicals can compromise FR properties and will require you to at least run the garment through the wash again if not remove it from service and replace it.
Who makes FR clothing?
The best brand of FR clothing is the one that offers you well-made garments with quality materials. Check for UL classification, which means that the garment was inspected by an independent party and that it meets or exceeds the latest industry safety standards. Find a brand that also offers an array of sizing options so you can get everyone comfortably outfitted. PK Safety carries FR clothing from these trusted brands: NSA, ForgeFR, Berne, MCR Safety, Saf-Tech, Oberon, Pyramex, Rocky Mountain Workwear, and PIP.
PK Safety also carries our own signature FR workwear and clothing line, GRIT. Our line offers UL classified pants, shirts, hoodies, and overalls designed to keep you safe. These clothes have a clean and professional look for the office but the protection, comfort, and performance needed for the field. We also don’t charge extra for larger sizes to make sure that you can outfit your whole team. Manufactured in the Americas, all our GRIT products are all backed by an industry leading 2-year quality guarantee.
Why are FR clothes so expensive?
FR clothing is very expensive compared to non-FR clothing—your budget might be in the tens of thousands depending on how many people you have to outfit and what you need to get. However, FR clothing is specifically engineered to be more protective and resistant to melting and igniting than the 100% cotton shirts you can get from a department store. A lot of industries require FR gear in order to keep workers safe, which requires unique materials (including expensive fabric), engineering science, and expertise to put together. When your industry exposes you to arc blasts and flashes, ignition sources, or open flames, though, it’s an investment you can’t afford to skip.
If you’re trying to save money when stocking up, make sure that you know what your employees are doing in a day to help narrow down your decisions to exactly what you need. You can also decide on a true flame resistant uniform with a very limited number of styles and pieces (while still accommodating comfort and size) to keep costs down. You can also take advantage of sales like ours to get the gear you need at great prices.
Does OSHA require FR clothing?
Yes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that employees who are in areas with flash fire hazards must wear flame-resistant garments that protect against those hazards. Under OSHA’s general duty clause, employers need to provide their employees with a workplace that’s as free from hazards that can cause harm and death as possible. OSHA 29 CFR1910 ensures that employees exposed to flames or electric arcs don’t wear clothing that could increase injuries and that all apparel exposed to these hazards needs to be safe. Finally, OSHA 1910.132 states that employers must provide appropriate PPE at no cost to their employees.
If you want to learn more about our FR clothing and other safety gear, or have worksite safety questions, we can help. PK Safety has been in the industry for decades and we’re committed to innovation and worker safety. Contact a safety expert online or by calling 800.829.9580.