The Benefits of Flame Resistant Uniforms

in Flame

Fire retardant clothing used to mean bulky, uncomfortable outfits only worn by firefighters. Today, the thinner materials used in flame resistant uniforms make them almost indistinguishable from regular clothing. This article covers some of the benefits of these fabrics.

Flammability Protection

When exposed to a flame, it is vital to know how fast a person's clothing will catch fire. The longer it takes for fabric to ignite, the more time is available for a person to escape with minimal injury.

Many fabrics can ignite quickly, exposing the wearer to a high risk of injuries, even with minimal contact. Whether artificial like rayon or natural like cotton, cellulosic fibers are the most flammable used in making clothing. Synthetics like polyester and nylon take a bit longer to ignite so they only provide a limited degree of protection. Protein fibers like silk and wool are hard to ignite, but they aren't practical choices for uniforms.

Flame resistant work wear made from modacrylic are designed to be difficult to ignite. If the clothing will not burn, the wearer is less likely to sustain injuries from a fire.

The Characteristics of a Burn

When exposed to a fire long enough, practically any type of fiber will eventually burn. How the fabric reacts during combustion determines the severity of the injuries sustained by the wearer.

Cotton burns down to ash and flakes away. It will not trap heat on the skin. Slower to ignite synthetic fibers melt and fuse directly to the skin. Even when extinguishing the fire, the heat from this type of melted fabric will continue to burn the skin tissue. It is impossible to remove the melted fabric unless you also remove some skin along with it. This further increases the severity of the injury. The fabric can drip as it melts to other parts of the body, not only causing further injury, but also spreading the fire.

Flame resistant uniforms burn slowly when exposed to a flame for an extended period, but they pull away from the flame as they burn, preventing further exposure and melting.

Extinguishing a Fire

When removing a flame, how clothing responds is important. Most fabrics will continue to burn, even after the flame is extinguished. Polyester will continue to burn while silk and wool usually self extinguish if the fire is small.

The fabric used in flame resistant uniforms will not fuel a fire. They burn slowly and produce gas that works to push away oxygen, which starves the flame. They self extinguish almost instantly and within seconds become cool to touch.

Almost any worker has the potential for exposure to fire and numerous companies have turned to flame resistant uniforms to provide workers with the time they need to avoid suffering serious injuries.

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Stephanie Youker has 1 articles online

Stephanie Youker is the author for DRIFIRE, developers and manufacturers of comfortable fire resistant clothing that combines safety with comfort and moisture management. They are dedicated to protecting our firefighters, law enforcement officers, and military personnel from the dangers of their jobs with flame resistant apparel.

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The Benefits of Flame Resistant Uniforms

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This article was published on 2010/03/29