Starting today, we’re going to take a look at fire resistant clothing and apparel.
First things first, we’ll cover the basics.
What exactly is a FR garment?
A FR garment is any garment that self extinguishes when pulled away from an ignition source. Unlike regular street clothes, as soon as you pull away from the flames or any other ignition source, your clothes will stop burning.
Why shouldn’t I just wear regular clothes?
Regular fabrics will burn and possibly melt when exposed to an electrical arc or flames. Cotton, polyester, nylon and wool all burn when exposed to an ignition source. Polyester and nylon are known for melting. Both a continued burn and melting will increase the chance for serious injuries.
Shouldn’t just electrical line workers and people in the oil and gas industry wear FR?
There are many industries that should wear FR (the best way to find out is to conduct a hazard risk assessment.) Some of the most common ones are electrical utilities, oil and gas industries, chemical plants, manufacturing that involves welding and flame cutting, mining, foundries, and anywhere there is a lot of dust, such as granaries.
Granaries? Really? Why would they need FR garments?
Granaries and mines are a hotbed for what is considered combustible dust. If you walk in somewhere, and you leave footprints or can see dust particles in the air, you are surrounded by combustible dust. (And unless you’re wearing FR gear, we’d recommend leaving immediately. We do not step foot into a plant that has combustible dust and no way of mitigating it.) All it takes is a small spark, and a large explosion can happen. There is no way to predict when or if an explosion will happen. (For more information about combustible dust, this blog is a great resource, as well as the OSHA extract linked above.)
So how does wearing FR protect me?
When you’re exposed to an ignition source most clothing will burn, fall apart, melt, etc. FR clothing will not ignite, burn, or melt. It will maintain a barrier and insulate you from the heat of the ignition source. It resists falling apart and reduces burn injuries and increases your chances of survival from something catastrophic.
Next up: Types of FR fabrics, treated versus inherently FR.