Are You Using the Proper FR Clothing?

Nearly 2,000 workers suffer severe burns each year. One of the biggest risks industrial and manufacturing employees face is working in conditions where there’s a high chance of arc flash or flash fire. It’s important that workers in those environments are using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including flame-resistant clothing./p>

Flame-resistant (FR) clothing is a critical part of protecting employees that may be exposed to heat, flame, arc flash, or flash fire. To ensure that everyone is properly protected, it’s important to understand the difference between traditional fabrics and FR fabrics.

Traditional fabrics, like cotton and nylon, are highly flammable and will ignite and continue to burn as long as they’re exposed to the ignition source. FR fabrics are designed to self-extinguish when the source of the flame is removed. Some fabrics are inherently flame-resistant, while others are treated with a flame retardant. Materials that are inherently flame-resistant are created when flame-retardant qualities are engineered into the fiber of the fabric. Treated fabrics, like cotton or cotton/nylon blend, are treated with flame-retardant chemicals and offer high levels of protection against arc flash or flash fire heat-related injuries.

The durability of FR fabrics depends on the usage and how they’re laundered. If given the proper care and laundering, treated fabrics will remain flame-resistant for the life of the garment. All FR apparel may lose some or all of its flame resistance due to chemical exposure or improper laundering, repair, or maintenance. Be sure to follow the garment manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure the highest level of protection.

FR clothing is also separated into categories based on the level of protection it provides – primary and secondary. Primary level garments are used in areas where the likelihood of exposure to arc flash is high, and falls under HRC levels three and four. Primary garments are heavier gear, such as a flame-resistant “flash suit.”

Secondary protection clothing is for workers in positions where the most common hazard risks are prevalent and fall under HRC levels one and two. These include shirts, pants, and coveralls.

As an example, maintenance workers would wear secondary garments, such as FR shirts and pants as every day work wear. When working on any energized equipment, however, they would wear primary protection apparel (flash suit) that covers and protects the entire body.

Flame-resistant clothing is an integral component to protect workers against heat, flame, arc flash, or flash fire. If you have questions about what level of protection you need, give our Technical Support Reps a call at 800-922-8553, or email They’ll answer your questions and help you find the right protection for you and your workplace.

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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