Fire retardant clothing - also known as fire resistant clothing (FR) - is commonplace in many workplace environments where safety is paramount. When purchasing FR clothing, there are a couple of things that are important to know.
Fire resistant clothing with anti-static properties is now becoming more popular; you may find the description of these garments in short as FRAS which stands for Fire Retardant Anti Static.
The following standards all relate to fire retardant clothing.
- BS EN 1149-5:2008 – Protective Clothing Electrostatic Properties
- BS EN 531:1995 – Protective Clothing for Workers Exposed to Heat
- BS EN ISO 11611:2007 – Protective Clothing for Use in Welding
- BS EN ISO 11612:2008 – Clothing for Protection against Heat & Flame
When purchasing any fire resistant clothing, it is important to note there are two distinct type of garments which differ based upon the fabrics used.
Firstly there are FR treated fabrics. These achieve their fire resistance properties through a treatment process. The benefit of this type of protective clothing is that they are cheaper to purchase, however, on the flip side, FR properties can wash out during the garments life span, meaning safety can be compromised.
Secondly, there are inherent fire resistant garments. These garments typically use Nomex, Protex and Kermel fabrics to name but a few (also commonly known as mod-acrylics). These garments are more expensive because the fabrics used are inherently flame resistant. This means that the protection will not wash out, increasing the life span of the clothing and ensuring safety standards are maintained at all times.
Obviously the garment you choose will come down to a number of factors; budget, how long you require the clothing for, and type of clothing, amongst others. However, it is important to note the difference between the two types of fabrics used in fire resistant clothing and if the fabric will meet your needs now and in the future.