Treated vs inherent flame-resistant fabrics – making the right choice for you

Treated vs inherent flame-resistant fabrics – making the right choice for you

In a world awash with baffling technical speak, we cut through the jargon to explain the difference between treated and inherent flame resistance and the considerations when weighing up which to buy.

The big fabric debate

If you’ve been browsing PPE catalogues searching for arc flash and flame-resistant (FR) workwear, you have probably noticed there are many ways to describe the nature of the fabrics the garments are made from.

The two main phrases used in descriptions of arc flash garments are inherent fabrics and treated fabrics. So, what’s the difference? And why does it matter?

Treated flame-resistant fabrics

A fabric described as treated will be made from fibres which aren’t flame retardant by their nature, but have either had a chemical applied, or have been through a chemical process, to make them fire resistant by creating a chemical reaction when set alight which then extinguishes the flame. 

Inherent flame-resistant fabrics

If a fabric is inherently flame-resistant (also known as inherently fire-retardant), its ability to protect you from heat and flames comes from the polymer fibres of the fabric which, at normal oxygen levels, don’t ignite.

Pros and cons of inherent and flame-resistant fabrics

Most of our ProGARM range is made using inherent fabrics because this makes it impossible for the flame resistance to degrade over time or be washed out altogether. These garments also don’t shrink when exposed to heat, helping to maintain critical air layers between the fabrics.

The advantage of treated fabrics is that they’re cheaper. However, this passes considerable responsibility to the employer to devise a system for wearers to monitor their garment’s wear and record its laundry cycles so the company knows when to replace the item due to degradation of the protective treatment.

ProGARM is pro-choice

In developing our products, we’ve researched what’s important to our customers and fully appreciate that the decision between buying inherent or treated arc flash PPE isn’t an easy one when working with budget constraints and trying to keep their workforce safe.

That’s why we’ve been researching and developing treated garments. This gives you a choice without quite such a dilemma about the degree of safety compromise when making price-based decisions.

Our new coverall (available in four colour options) has been designed in a way that offers the cost saving advantages of being made from treated fabric, while also being robust enough to withstand up to 100 washes – lasting much longer than many competitor products, which are only tested up to 50 washes.


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

We’re proud that all of our PPE clothing (not just our fabrics) meet EU Conformité Européenne (CE) standards and the new United Kingdom Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark[KC1] .

Our garments also hold EN certifications relevant to their intended purpose and/or industry. For example, all 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).[KC2] 

We go a step further too. Having achieved ISO9001 (Quality Management) and added Article 11B[KC3] [LT4] , all our supply chain partners meet the same standards. For us, there are no compromises on quality. 

As well as safety considerations, when developing our garments and fabrics, we always research what’s important to our customers. This helps us maintain our reputation for the best safety, quality and comfort standards. 

Our independent testing looks at fading and shrinkage, as well as comfort. And all our buttons, zips and press studs are made from the same military-grade plastics as NASA uses, so that they won’t melt and will still work if exposed to heat, flames or a high-voltage electric charge. 

These decisions result in pioneering safety standards and mean that, when a casualty needs urgent medical attention following an incident, you will be able to unfasten and remove the clothing far more easily.

You’ll find a label on each of our safety workwear products, outlining which European and UKCA certifications it meets[KC5] [LT6] , along with garment care guidelines. 

If you would like a chat with one of our arc flash experts to discuss your PPE requirements, give us a call on 44 (0) 1482 679600 to discuss your requirements or email info@progarmcurrent.wpengine.com.

Make sure that you’re specifying the right PPE for your team.

Read our free guide on the top considerations when choosing Arc Flash clothing & PPE below and make the best choice for you and your team via the link below ⬇.

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