Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Common Flame Resistant Clothing Myths

It is easy to get caught up in negative reports about flame resistant technology, especially when it is badly implemented. But, flame resistant clothing is still an important safeguard in the workplace - a fact that was confirmed when the Office of Naval Research tested and created FR coveralls.

FR Clothing is Ineffective

This is a common misconception so it is good to get it out of the way first.

While it is true that FR clothing is not fire-proof, it does provide a large degree of protection compared to clothing which does not have the same flame resistant properties. For example, Carhartt states that their FR clothing is "specially designed to self-extinguish within two seconds after the source of ignition is removed." Although the protection is not perfect, burn severity is still drastically reduced.

FR Chemicals Wash Out or Degrade

No. Flame resistant garments are designed to provide protection throughout the life of the garment.

This myth generally stems from a misunderstanding about the two types of flame resistant fabrics: inherent and treated. Inherent fabrics are chemically designed to have fabrics that are flame resistant from the ground up. The misunderstanding comes in with treated fabrics. The chemicals used in the treating process create a permanent chemical attachment that cannot be undone through normal washing (however, you should note any special washing instructions given by the manufacturer).

Conclusion

Even the article about the ineffective FR implementation for home furniture at the opening of this post acknowledges that flame retardant barriers do offer effective resistance to fire (and the same information has been reported by Matt Blais, PhD, on Youtube). The lesson is that FR is important, especially when it comes to hazardous working conditions.

Flame resistant clothing is rated for safety by organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association. These organizations provide different levels of certification for garments. When in doubt, research the safety ratings of your garments before purchasing.

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