When selecting a fire resistant clothing, its all about finding the best balance of protection, durability, comfort and value. Of course, safety is the most important factor. So protection should be your number one consideration. This means you want to look for FR clothing made from fabrics that provide the appropriate level of protection for the particular hazards present in your work environment such as flash fire or arc flash.
You’ll need to make sure that each garment meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of the safety standards that apply to your industry. For example, NFPA 2112 for a flash fire hazard and ASTM F1506 for an arc flash hazard. You’ll also want to make sure that the fabric you choose is guaranteed to remain flame resistant for the life of the garment.
Comfort is probably the next more important consideration. If employees dislike their FR uniform because it is uncomfortable, they may not wear it consistently or properly. Comfort is a bit hard to measure as there are several variables that come in to play.
There is the actual feel of softness off the fabric, the fabric breathability, the weight, the fit itself and the fabric’s ability to wick moisture and dry quickly. Because these factors can be perceived differently by different people and in different work environment, it is best to conduct a wear trial to determine the best fir for your needs.
The final factor to consider in FR clothing selection is value. Quality flame retardant garments can be expensive, but there is more to value than just the upfront cost of the garment. There is a saying — “You get what you pay for.” And flame resistant clothing is no exception. If you are constantly having to replace workwear because of shrinkage our damage, your cost per ware often end up higher than if you just invest in a higher quality option to begin with.
Garment constructed for durability will last longer, so be sure to look for features like; reinforced snaps, multiple stitching in high stress areas, double filled seams, high stitch counts and reinforced pockets. Certain fabrics also tend to have lower shrinkage than others, so it pays to do your research.