Table of Contents
What is FR Fabric?
Flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) fabrics are used to produce FR clothing that is worn by workers in many industries as the “last line of defense” against serious arc flash injury, flash fire, molten metal, and fuel dust. These fabrics are self-extinguishing; they do not ignite and continue to burn after removal of the heat source and do not melt.
All commonly used FR fibers and fabrics in the world today are manufactured by humans using chemistry. While increased industry innovation has marketed more FR fabric brands and compositions than ever before, the majority of FR fabrics fall into two categories: inherent and treated.
What is IEC 61482?
IEC 61482 Electric arc thermal arc hazards protective clothing. When there is a risk of being exposed to an electric arc, staff are advised to wear protective clothing approved by the arc. IEC 61482-2 is the overall standard covering protective clothing against electric arc thermal arc hazards. The standard IEC 61482-2 also covers various aspects of the design of the garment.
Garments that meet all of these requirements set out in IEC 61482-2 should be marked with the IEC 61482-2 symbol and the level of protection that it meets.
What are the inherent FR fibers?
FR fabrics are inherently kneaded or woven from fibers that incorporate flame resistance into their chemical structures. Interestingly, while the inherent word denotes a core property, or something that is innately and naturally a part of the whole, all the inherent fibers in use today are man-made. Due to the fact that the FR engineering is carried out during the creation of the fiber itself and is an inseparable part of the fiber, the flame resistance of the garments made from the inherent fiber is permanent. Aramids, modacrylics, and carbon fibers are common and popular inherent fibers.
What is meant by a treated FR fabric?
Treated fabric begins as a flammable product (usually a rich blend of cotton or cotton) and then flammable retardants are engineered into the fabric to create flammable resistance. There are a number of different treatment technologies being used in today’s world, and the best of these technologies create a flame-resistant polymer inside the hollow core of the cotton fibers producing fabrics that are guaranteed FR for the life of the clothing.
How different are the technologies of inherent and treated FR fabric?
There are multiple inherent fiber technologies, and each uses a different process to create a fabric that is flame resistant. Some inherent fibers use gas-phase technology, such as modacrylic. Gas-state technologies extinguish flames by forming a type of molecule in the gas layer above the fabric called a free radical oxygen scavenger and suffocating the fire, preventing further decomposition and fuel generation. Other inherent fibers, such as aramids, are thermally stable and act in the solid phase meaning their molecular structure is resistant to high-temperature decomposition, then forming a friable char. This interrupts combustion by preventing fuel generation.
Most modern types of treated FR fabric also act in the solid phase, resulting in the fabric being charged rather than burned when exposed to heat reducing the amount of fuel available and extinguishing the fire.
With the dramatic improvements and innovations made in FR engineering over the years, differences have essentially disappeared between the durability of flame resistance and the protective qualities of inherent and treated fabrics, at least among major US manufacturers. For the life of the garment, a worker wearing FR clothing made from inherent or quality treated fabric will be well protected. And home laundering is easier than ever, as the recommendations of the manufacturer are the same for both inherent and treated clothing no liquid chlorine bleach and no fabric softener.
Nowadays, choosing between the two fabric types most often depends on the worker’s preference namely comfort, clothing durability, and value.
How can you Wash your FR Clothing?
Home laundry is a safe, cost-effective alternative to industrial laundry and can help preserve FR clothing’s useful life and protective qualities.
The best cleaning performance is provided by Liquid detergent (for top loading machines) Wash FR clothing at the hottest temperature on the care label (usually warm setting) to remove dirt for heavily soiled clothing. FR clothing can be cleaned dry at any time.
We recommend laundering of clothing at a “warm” temperature to minimize shrinkage. To minimize shrinkage, line dries an FR garment or tumble-dry at low is best. Remove the clothing from the dryer while it is still humid. Wash at the hottest temperature for heavily soiled garments allowed dirt to be removed on the care label (usually warm setting). FR clothing can be cleaned dry at any time.
For maintenance and cleaning of IEC 61482 Electric arc thermal arc hazards protective clothing, strictly follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer in a manual or a tag attached to the garment.
When washing FR clothes, you should not use bleach. Data suggest that bleach can degrade the fabric’s FR characteristics and reduce the clothing’s protective properties. You should launder FR clothing without using bleach to maximize your safety.
Does FR fabric shrink and if so how can we minimize it?
Most FRC contains cotton that shrinks when washed. Like many non-FR fabrics, flame-resistant fabrics are susceptible to shrinkage regardless of what the fabric is made by the company or the garment is made of. To help accommodate future shrinkage, follow the instructions of the manufacturer.
It is important to note that within the first five items of washing, two-thirds of the shrinkage of a garment takes place. Manufacturers normally recommend that garments be washed at “warm” temperatures. Once you’re satisfied with the way your garment fits, you can keep its size, like any other garment, by line drying it instead of using a dryer. If it is necessary to use a dryer, remove the clothing from the dryer while it is still humid.
Within the first five washes, two-thirds of the shrinkage of a garment takes place. Once you’re happy with how your garment fits, like any other garment, you can retain its size by drying line instead of using a dryer. If it is necessary to use a dryer, tumble the garment at low. It can be excessively shrunk by drying a garment on high heat.