In the world of personal protection equipment and workplace safety, the acronym “FR” stands for either flame resistant or flame retardant. When specifically referring to FR clothing, it will mean flame resistant. These clothes were designed and specially treated in order to help keep them from catching fire, or remaining on fire, so that the person wearing them will be as safe as possible. In most cases this type of clothing will be worn in situations where there is an elevated risk of fire. Some examples of this type of elevated risk would include places where arc flashes are a hazard, working with welding equipment, or even firefighters entering places that are on fire.
What is flame retardant clothing?
While the FR will typically stand for flame resistant, it is good to understand what a flame retardant is since they are related. Flame resistant clothing will typically be treated with some type of flame retardant to help prevent the fires. This is usually a chemical that will change the material that is used to keep it from catching on fire. Once properly treated with some type of flame retardant, the clothing will be able to be exposed to a much higher temperature without igniting than would otherwise be possible.
Protections Offered by FR Clothing
Wearing flame resistant clothing offers several different types of protections to the employees who use them. The following are the most significant ways that this type of clothing can provide protection:
- Avoid Catching Fire – The biggest safety benefit is that the clothing is far less likely to catch on fire. FR clothing will need to be exposed to very high temperatures for an extended period of time before it can burn.
- Prevent Smoldering – One of the biggest risks of fire exposure is that clothing can continue to burn or smolder against the skin, which can cause severe burns. FR clothing is designed to quickly go out even after being burned so that the person wearing it is at a reduced risk.
- Non-Conductive – Most types of FR clothing are going to be made so that it will not conduct electricity. This can help to further keep the person safe and minimize the risk of electrical burns.
Finding the Right FR Clothing
There are a variety of different levels of FR clothing to choose from. Looking at the FR rating of a specific item will help to determine what is needed. This rating will identify how much protection is provided to the person wearing it. The greater the risk of exposure to fire or high temperatures, the higher the FR rating that should be used.
Additional FR facts:
- FR is an acronym that can have two distinct meanings as it relates to protective clothing: Fire Retardant and Flame Resistant. Source: https://www.arcwear.com/blog/back-to-basics-what-does-fr-clothing-mean/
- Fire Retardant is a term that describes a chemical treatment that is applied to fabrics to make them flame resistant. Flame Resistant is a term that describes a property of a material that resists ignition and self-extinguishes if ignited. Source: https://alsco.com/resources/flame-retardant-vs-flame-resistant-whats-the-difference/
- Some fabrics are made of inherently flame resistant fibers, such as aramids, modacrylics, FR rayon, and polybenzimidazole. These fabrics do not require any fire retardant treatments to be flame resistant. Source: https://www.safeopedia.com/definition/6812/flame-resistant-fr
- Flame resistant fabrics and garments are classified into different hazard risk categories, from Category 1 to Category 4, based on their performance in various tests and standards. The higher the category, the more protection is offered for a longer period of time. Source: https://alsco.com/resources/flame-retardant-vs-flame-resistant-whats-the-difference/
- Flame resistant clothing is used in various industries and occupations, such as electric utilities, oil and gas, welding, firefighting, military, and racing. Flame resistant clothing can protect workers from burns, injuries, and fatalities caused by fire, arc flash, flash fire, and other thermal hazards. Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flame-retardant
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