What does “FR” in the FR Clothing really mean?
There are a lot of nuances & requirements when it comes to FR clothing. Do you what “FR” really means? Maybe you’ve just been told that you need to wear FR clothing at your new job. Whatever the case is, it is important for you to understand the meaning of FR clothing. In this article, we will talk about what is flame resistant clothing and what does “FR” here really means.
What is Flame Resistant Clothing?
Flame-resistant clothing — commonly abbreviated as FR clothing — refers to any clothing items that are designed & specifically manufactured to protect wearers from potential intermittent flames & thermal exposure. These clothing items are engineered to protect the wearer from injury due to flames as they do not easily catch fire, and even when they do, they are designed to self-extinguish. If the wearer gets exposed to a brief, intermittent flame while wearing FR clothing and the clothing catches fire, it will self extinguish itself. FR clothing’s ability causes the wearer’s risk of burn injury to plummet & can often provide the wearer with enough time to escape the unsafe environment.
All these attributes work together to provide the wearer with a far greater chance of escape & survival if they find themselves suddenly in the middle of a flash fire, an electric arc, or any other unexpected thermal problem that can cause injury. In situations like these, FR clothing can be the difference between being severely injured or escaping unscathed.
Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), delineates specific guidelines. Any FR clothing required by a workplace will need to fall within their guidelines. OSHA stipulates any worker working in conditions where they may be exposed to flames, electric arcs or any similar hazards must not wear clothing that “could potentially increase the extent of the injury.” In addition to this, OSHA’s clothing requirements then go on to prohibit clothing made of nylon, rayon, polyester or acetate, unless the employer can prove they’ve been appropriately treated to withstand the conditions the workers may encounter during their work.
“FR”- Flame-Resistant or Fire-Resistant or Fire-Retardant
People often confuse FR for Flame-Resistant or Fire-Resistant or Fire-Retardant as they usually assume these three terms are synonyms. However, the confusion is understandable, given the similarities of these terms. But actually, two of the terms are interchangeable, but another one of them is quite a bit different. So, here are the major differences between these terms.
Flame-Resistant: Flame-resistant clothing is typically made from inherently non-flammable fabrics & materials. The materials used for making this clothing have a chemical structure which is naturally resistant to flames. This fabric type may catch fire, but it will either self-extinguish or burn very slowly, which gives wearer enough time to escape. The most important function of these fabrics is to prevent any further spread of fire.
Fire-Resistant: This term can be taken as a synonym for flame-resistant. If you find this term as a replacement of flame-resistant, don’t be confused. Both these terms mean exactly the same thing, and it is correct to use them interchangeably.
Fire-Retardant: Fire-retardant fabrics are quite different from the other two. These fabrics are those that have undergone chemical treatment to acquire some of the similar properties that flame-resistant fabrics inherently have. As a result of these chemical procedures, flame/fire-retardant fabrics become self-extinguishing & slow-burning. Any type of fabric can be used, but it must undergo this chemical treatment before it can be considered as flame/fire retardant.
These definitions clearly state the meaning & significance of these terms. So make sure you understand the requirements & guidelines of your industry & work type and choose your “FR” clothing accordingly.