Both Flame-resistant and flame-retardant are commonly referred to as ‘FR’, meaning that they get misused an awful lot. Since they sound so similar, it is easy to get confused between the two.
However, as some of these garments are required in hazardous workplaces, it’s crucial for some workers to know the difference between the two. This could mean the difference between protecting yourself properly or getting severely burned. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
What is flame-resistant? Resistant refers to materials that are inherently resistant to catching fire. Let’s consider the flame-resistant fabric. This material is self-extinguishing and does not drip or melt when exposed to extreme heat. All flame-resistant fabrics have to pass something called an ASTM vertical flame test. This means that the material is exposed to a vertical flame for a short period before being removed from it. If the fabric meets certain criteria such as self-extinguishing within two seconds or less, it can be deemed ‘resistant’. Something crucial to understand is that the test involves igniting the material, meaning that resistant garments can and will ignite. Their protection falls on the structural strength of the material, the threshold prior to ignition, and its self-extinguishing features. It does require more energy to ignite these types of garments than non-flame-resistant garments. Due to extreme thermal conditions to which some workers are exposed too, the structural strength of resistant fabrics is crucial. It is designed to reduce injuries through ignition.
What is flame-retardant? Retardant refers to materials that have been chemically treated in order to self-extinguish. Many companies ‘treat’ textiles to make the self-extinguish flames in extreme conditions, preventing them from melting or dripping. Flame-retardant garments are constructed to slow down combustion or ignition if the flames are not extinguished. With this in mind, they are used in other products aside from clothes – retardant material has become appealing in carpets, furniture, and drapes. Because retardant materials take time to ignite, they give people more chance and time to escape a burning building. Flame-retardants are great for preventing fire damage to surfaces as well as your skin.
Overall, both flame-resistant and flame-retardant materials have their uses, even though they are slightly different. Knox sells both resistant and retardant garments for any worker looking for affordable and trendy protection. It’s time to pay attention to resistant and retardant materials’ benefits and start saving your life from hazardous situations today!