Advancements in technology have improved occupational safety immensely over the past few decades and flame resistant (FR) technologies are one of the most important breakthroughs to have impacted how workers handle dangerous jobs. From fr shirts for men to firefighter coats to racecar driver suits, fire-resistant technology has evolved to protect people from severe burns even when they’re exposed to intense heat or flames for a significant amount of time. Here are three of those technologies and how they work.
Thermally Stable Technologies
Thermally stable technologies are also referred to as inherently flame-resistant technologies and have been used to manufacture fibers that will not break down, melt, or decompose when they are exposed to heat. In the event of a flash arc or flash fire, these fibers do not provide any fuel to burn, so if a spark or flame hits the material, it immediately self-extinguishes. The fibers are extremely strong and are not easily ripped or punctured, making them ideal for FR clothing.
This technology is specifically suited for workers in the electrical and gas industries, where flash arcs and flash fires are a constant threat. The technology is permanently ingrained in the fibers so the fire resistance cannot be washed out or worn down with use. Often, this fabric is stiff and rough, which can dissuade employees from wearing it as undergarments. It is an excellent choice for coats, overalls, and bibs.
This fire resistance technology can be applied to clothing as a treatment or as man-made fibers. When it is applied as a treatment, it is not permanent and will eventually become less effective after multiple items of washing and over time. If applied during manufacturing, the technology is permanently bonded to the fibers, making it a permanent FR solution. With solid-state technology, when a flame comes in contact with the fabric, it will burn for a very short time to create a char. This char forms a barrier between the rest of the fabric and the flame, taking away the fuel necessary for continued burning.
Everyday clothing like t-shirts and jeans can be treated or manufactured using solid-state technologies, which means the clothing is generally more comfortable than those using thermally stable technologies. This is often preferred for professionals who don’t work with the continual risk of flash arcs, fires, or explosions, but could find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. This technology can protect against flash arcs, flash fires, and welding exposure, among other risks.
Also referred to as gas-state technologies, fuel-activated technologies reduce the fuel available to a flame in clothing by trapping radical molecules produced by the fire. This means that the fire actually never touches the fabric since the molecule trapping occurs above the fabric. As such, gas-state technologies can be blended with non-FR materials to provide flame-resistant clothing at a lower price point than the other technologies. However, this technology tends to be less durable than the others and will shrink more as well. Electricians primarily use clothing with this technology to guard against flash arcs.
There are many options available to you for flame-resistant clothing, each one offering its own pros and cons. Our advice is to try out clothing made with each technology to determine which one provides you with the protection you need and the comfort you want.