Among all hazards related to fire, fabrics and clothing are the most prone to burning as they’re the first ones to catch fire. Due to this reason, most of the clothing and fabrics we purchase for furniture meet certain flame-resistant requirements. But for certain people that work in hazardous environments, especially those that work for utility services, flame-retardant clothing with high levels of flame-retardant capabilities is imperative.
FR clothing keeps them safe from fire, sparks, and other hazards that are part and parcel of their job. There are varying types of fire retardant fabrics such as Kevlar, indura, PBI, cotton, and other materials. These materials are designed to be resistant to fire damage and heat and prevent clothing from melting.
What Are Flame Retardant Fabrics?
A flame retardant fabric is a special kind of fabric that limits the spread of fire, reduces the damage from fire and heat, protects the wearer from fire exposure, and self-extinguishes when the person wearing it is at a safe distance from the heat source. The flame-resistant fabrics come from their special composition, which includes materials that are naturally resistant to flames.
6 Types Of Flame Retardant Fabrics
There are varying types of FR fabrics. Some offer great protection against fire and flames, while some offer less resistance. It’s always best to compare and choose the best quality flame retardant clothing for the utmost protection.
Following are some common types of flame retardant fabrics.
This fire-resistant material is the oldest line of FR fabrics that’s been used since the 1960s. DuPont, the American multinational chemical company, trademarked and developed this type of FR fabric for race car drivers because of the fiery crashes that often happen in races. Nomex is a fabric that is quite similar to nylon.
Nomex is a breathable, durable, and comfortable fabric to wear and has been effective at resisting fire damage for many years. Nomex is often used by firefighter hoods that are used to cover the head, neck, and face, which aren’t covered by the mask and the helmet. These hoods not only protect the firefighters from flames from fires but also from intense heat exposure.
Kevlar is among the most commonly used fire-resistant fabrics that are famous for its durability and protection. Kevlar is related to Nomex, and DuPont also developed it. It is thinner and lighter compared to most Nomex fabrics. This makes it a common and effective choice for protection against heat.
Kevlar is a popular and widely used fabric for making bulletproof vests, but it also has various other uses. Kevlar’s most useful quality is that it can retain its tensile strength in extreme heat and extreme cold.
This makes Kevlar an excellent fabric for people who are looking for flame-retardant garments that are comfortable enough for the person to move freely in without any extra padding and additional weight.
Indura cotton is considered the best-selling fabric for flame-retardant clothing. Indura is 100% cotton and provides durable flame-retardant clothing that also is washable.
Indura cotton is treated with fire retardant polymers which gives the garment efficient protection against heat and fire that many professionals working in utility jobs need.
PBI is an organic fiber that is very effective for fire resistance. It is a great choice for firefighters and professionals like utility workers who work around the fire and where electrical hazards are commonplace.
This fiber has a gold coloring that blends well with other fibers to create a premium fabric that is lightweight, durable, and efficient at resisting fire and intense heat. It is also slightly more expensive compared to other flame-retardant fabrics.
Cotton is a commonly known material famous for its lightweight, cost-effective, and breathable fabric. The thicker the cotton, the more comfortable and high-quality the fabric. Cotton is known to provide better durability throughout its lifespan as a flame-retardant garment.
A garment made with flame-retardant cotton can give you good protection against heat as well as fire exposure. Another good thing is that cotton will be cheaper and will provide comfort as well when it comes to sparks and other hazards. Cotton, though effective and comfortable, still doesn’t provide enough protection for all welding options. Some jobs require more durable garments that are capable of handling intense heat, sparks, and spatter.
LEVITEX Flame Retardant fabrics are used to make clothing that protects workers from serious injury when struck by arcs, flames, or molten metal. These self-extinguishing fabrics will not continue burning after the heat source has been removed and don’t melt even if exposed to high temperatures.
LEVITEX can combine different functions such as oil-resistant, water-repellency, acid and alkali-resistant, antistatic, moisture-wicking, water-pressure-resistant, anti-mosquito, and Teflon on the same flame-resistant fabric.
Difference Between Inherent Flame Retardant Fabrics And Treated Flame Retardant Fabrics
Inherent flame retardant fabrics are fabrics that are made from fibers that have a natural resistance to flames. This means there wouldn’t be any need for these fabrics to go through any additional treatment to become flame retardant. And as these fabrics are naturally flame resistant, they will remain resistant to flames throughout their life without wearing off.
Flame retardant fabrics that are treated are dipped or sprayed with chemicals that are flame resistant. This treatment makes the fabric flame-resistant, but its resistance to flames isn’t permanent. Treated flame retardant fabrics can wear off, and their protection against flames can decrease in effectiveness over time. This is possible after they’ve been washed a couple of times, used on a regular basis, or exposed to certain elements that have damaged their protective finish.
For professionals that deal with fire on a daily basis, such as utility workers or firefighters, any degree of flame retardant fabrics can work. There are various fabrics to choose from. Some are naturally flame retardant, while others are treated to be flame retardant. So be mindful of your choice!