What is Flame Resistant Clothing? A Quick Guide

What is flame resistant clothing

What is Flame Resistant Clothing? A Quick Guide

In our previous article, we guided you through the most common fabrics used in workwear. Today we will focus on Flame Resistant workwear, and we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions such as: what is flame resistant clothing? Is flame resistant and flame retardant the same? How to choose the right garment?

What is flame resistant clothing?

Flame Resistant (FR) clothing refers to a specific type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is designed to resist ignition and self-extinguish as soon as the source of heat or flame is removed. This means that if FR garments catch fire, they do not combust or melt so they offer excellent protection to the wearer and reduce the risk of burns. However, it is important to remember that FR clothing is not entirely fire-proof, and it will eventually burn if exposed to fire for a long period of time.

Is flame resistant and flame retardant the same?

Despite being both referred to as FR, Flame Resistant and Flame Retardant is not the same and the main difference lies in the material they are made from. While Flame Resistant clothing is made from fabrics that are inherently resistant (like Nomex, Kevlar, and Modacrylic) and will naturally self-extinguish once the source of heat is removed, Flame Retardant is made from materials that have been treated with special chemicals. Both of the naturally resistant materials and chemically treated materials react in the same way when exposed to fire or high temperature.

How to choose the right FR garment?

Being able to answer the question ‘what is flame resistant clothing’ and knowing the difference between Flame Resistant and Flame Retardant is not enough to make the right decision. We have also seen that both Flame Resistant and Flame Retardant offer great protection against fire hazards, but specific garments can react in different ways  and offer different levels of protection. As an employee it is essential to be aware of the type of protection you need and choose the right garment based on it. To do so, you have to be familiar with the following safety standards:

EN 1161 – Protective Clothing Against Heat and Flame

This standard determines the level of protection FR garments can provide and organises them in the following list based on testing:

  • A1: Limited flame spread
  • A2: Limited flame spread, hemmed specimens
  • B: Convective Heat
  • C: Radiant Heat
  • D: Molten aluminium splash
  • E: Molten Iron Splash
  • F: Contact Heat

EN 1161 – Protective Clothing for Use in Welding and Allied Processes

EN 1161 refers to those garments meant to be used for welding and other similar tasks and organises them into Class 1 (offering protection against less hazardous activities) and Class 2 garments (offering protection against more hazardous activities).

EN 14116 – Protective Clothing Against Limited Flame Spread Materials and Material Assemblies

This standard replaced EN 533 and refers to garments that are meant to provide protection against occasional contact with small igniting sparks. EN 14116 organises flame spread into three categories: Index 1, 2 and 3.

ISO 13506: Manikin Test

This test valuates the performance of a garment in case of flash fire and uses a ‘pass’ or ‘failure’ criteria. This helps in comparing not only different garments, but also designs and finish based on their reaction in a realistic simulation.

Now that you know what Flame Resistant Clothing is and how to choose the most appropriate garment for you and you team, browse our full collection of high quality FR Workwear and contact us to find the best option for you needs!

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