Norms and standards
Flame Resistant Clothing
We speak of fire resistant clothing when they are specifically created to prevent its wearer from burns and other thermal injuries. FR clothing is designed to withstand ignition and self-extinguishes when the source of potential fire is removed. Both features help protect workers from burns and residual heat transfer.
What is fire resistant clothing?
Most normal fabrics wil scorch, burn or otherwise ignite when exposed to a flame. Some more chemical fabrics wil even melt into its wearer’s skin when caught on fire. This will obviously cause serious injuries.
Fire resistant clothing is specifically created to withstand such injuries from occurring when being exposed to various types of heat. Fire, combustion and other high temperature sources will be less likely to ignite the fabric and cause harm to its wearer. It’s less likely to catch a flame. But in the unlikely event of that happening the flame cannot continue burning when the original heat source is removed or extinguished. This gives you much more time to escape the heat, but minimizes the risk of injury in the process.
Remember that fire resistant (FR) does not mean fireproof. Every piece of fire resistant garment will eventually burn when exposed to heat for long enough.
How does fire resistant (FR) clothing work?
Fire resistant garments are made from fire resilient materials. Kevlar and other aluminized aramid fibers being the most used at Scandia and in general commonly used materials to create FR clothing. Other materials, whether they are naturally resistant or chemically enhanced, will behance similarly. In short: they will not keep burning when the heat source is removed or extinguished. In addition they won’t ignite very easily to begin with and won’t melt. The last one is very important to prevent serious skin injuries since molten fabric will do a lot of damage.
Do keep in mind when buying flame resistant clothing that different materials have different benefits. Always check the requirements your workplace or employer handles and buy accordingly. If you are unsure about which garments are right for you, please contact us and we are happy to help!
How is fire resistant clothing rated?
When you are sure about the level of protection you need, the next step is to find garments that fit you and your safety requirements. Fire resistant clothing is labeled using an Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV) – or arc rating in short. That rating will tell you exactly how much heat is transferred through the fabric in the event of an arc flash, flash fire, etc. and therefore what level of protection that piece of clothing will offer you.
Arc ratings and their values are expressed in calories per square centimeter. The higher the rating, the better the protection will be. For example, an arc rating of 40 or more will protect its wearer against category 4 (HRC4) dangers, the most severe. While clothing with an arc rating of 4 will only protect its wearer from category 1 (HRC1) dangers – the least severe.
All manufacturers are required to indicate what the arc rating of their products is. At Scandia you can find all norms and standards on the product page of that particular product or on the product sheet.
Finally, remember that all clothing with an arc rating is fire resistant, not all fire resistant clothing is arc rated. Some companies for example simply created products that are not tested yet. Investing in products that have been tested thoroughly are always the best way to ensure your safety.
Style and Substance
Back in the day, fire resistant garments were big, clumsy and ugly. Scandia put in a lot of effort to create a more stylish look while ensuring your safety simultaneously. Most lightweight garments ensure a lower level of protection, but you can layer them to create a more fire resistant fit.
Even though we have come a long way to create a stylish look, flame and fire resistant clothing should always have a slightly baggy fit. That way heat cannot transfer through to the skin so easily because a layer of air creates a safety buffer.
The limitations of fire resistant clothing
While incredibly important safety measurement, fire resistant clothing is not fireproof. Clothing can catch fire under extreme circumstances. Even though it won’t melt onto the skin, there is still a chance of injury under extreme conditions.
The most secure way to ensure your safety when working with fire and such is to select garments that have the correct arc rating for the job task ahead. Increase your safety and avoid wearing synthetic clothing under the FR clothing.