Treated vs inherent flame resistant clothing – why should you care?

Treated vs inherent flame resistant clothing – why should you care?

Treated vs inherent flame resistant clothing – why should you care?

In a world awash with baffling technical speak, we cut through the jargon to explain why we believe inherent flame resistant clothing are the only standard to tolerate.

The big fabric debate – Treated of Inherent Flame Resistant Clothing

If you’ve been browsing PPE catalogues searching for arc flash and flame resistant clothing for the workplace you might have seen there are lots of ways to describe the fabrics the garments are made from.

When you consider an Arc Flash incident exposes you to temperatures hotter than the sun, it pays to know what you’re buying when it comes to protective clothing.

The two phrases in mainstream use for Arc Flash clothing are inherent fabric and treated fabric. So what’s the difference? And why does it matter?

Treated flame resistant clothing fabrics

A fabric described as treated will be made from fibres which aren’t flame retardant by their nature, but have had a chemical applied or have been through a chemical process to add the fire resistance to them.

Many treated fabrics rely on a chemical reaction to extinguish a flame, as opposed to not setting alight in the first place.

The protection given by treated flame resistant clothing fabrics relies on that treatment not being degraded or wearing off in any way. Washing or long-term use both have the potential to reduce the protection treated safety garments offer.

The problem is, you can’t see the changes. So how will you know if that comfy ageing coverall will still do its job in the event of a fire or arc flash incident? The problem with testing flame resistant clothing, is that the garment has to be destroyed to get a result.

Treated flame resistant clothing fabrics can be cheaper – and therefore so are the garments made with them – but they need replacing more often than those made with inherent fabrics to be certain your people are protected.

Inherent flame resistant clothing fabrics

If a fabric is inherently flame retardant, its ability to protect you from heat and flames comes from the fibres of the fabric themselves. The very essence of the polo shirt, coveralls, trousers or jacket is – at its core – flame retardant because these properties are part of the polymer it’s made from.

Inherent flame resistant clothing fabrics won’t ignite (at normal oxygen levels) or might char as a protective mechanism. They don’t shrink when exposed to heat – which can reduce protection by decreasing the air layers between fabrics or make it difficult to take clothing off someone who’s injured.

Why do we only use inherent flame resistant clothing fabrics?

Inherent flame resistant clothing fabric’s fire resistance is in the very fibres it’s made from, so the protection it offers won’t reduce over time, no matter how many times you wash and wear it. This means our flame resistant clothing will last longer than those made with treated fabric, saving you money over the long-term. And we’re confident that, when it’s needed, our safety work wear will do just what it was designed to.

But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter whether the fire protection in the fabric is inherent or added afterwards. What you should make your decision based on is proof.

We’re proud that all of our PPE clothing (not just our fabrics) meets European standards and regulations, holding an EN certification relevant to the intended use and/or industry. For example, all of our garments conform to a minimum EN ISO 6330: 2012 DOMESTIC for washing, and some go further to meet the industrial washing standard (EN ISO15797: 2004 INDUSTRIAL).

We go further than those standards, having achieved ISO9001 (Quality Management) and added Article 11B, which means all of our supply chain meet the same standards. For us, there are no compromises on quality.

In developing our fabric we have researched what’s important to our customers, so our independent testing looks at fading and shrinkage, as well as comfort. We go even further, using military-grade materials in our buttons and zips, so they will still work if exposed to heat, flames or a high-voltage electric charge. That’s vital in the event of an incident when you need to take clothing off a casualty.

You’ll find a label on each of our safety work-wear products outlining which standards and certifications it meets, along with care information.

Read more about the standards our garments conform to here.

If you want a chat with one of our Arc Flash experts to discuss your PPE requirements, give us a call on 01482 679600.