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How do fire resistant clothes work?

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The most common questions we hear are, "How does FR clothing work?" and “What does FR workwear actually do?”

FR, or Flame-Resistant, clothing resists ignition and self-extinguishes once the source of ignition is removed.

What does that mean?

It means that the garment’s flame-resistant properties ensure it will resist catching fire, and if it does catch fire, it will not continue to burn once the source of combustion is removed. Flame-resistant clothing can and will burn when introduced to open flame from a flash fire, arc flash, combustible dust explosion or other fire sources. Remember, FR clothing is NOT fireproof. It is after the flame source is removed, that the FR “magic” happens. Flame-resistant workwear will not contribute to the severity of burn injury.

You may be wondering, “How can a piece of clothing intensify or reduce the level of burn injury?”

For example

  • Clothing that is not flame-resistant does not resist ignition, and once it has caught fire it will continue to burn until it is extinguished (ex: stop drop and roll, fire extinguisher) or until all flammable material has been consumed and there is nothing left to burn.
  • Non-FR clothing may have components that can conduct heat or electric current to the skin, or melt onto the skin.

In contrast

  • The self-extinguishing feature of FR clothing gives the wearer valuable escape time in a flash fire scenario.
  • FR garments are made using fabrics and components that will not melt onto the skin and are non-conductive to ensure they do not contribute to an increase in the extent of a burn injury.
  • FR clothing provides thermal insulation to protect from heat and resists breaking open, which would expose skin to hazards.

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