When it comes to workplace safety, few topics get as much attention as that of fire safety. Between fire drills and how to contain fires, most people are well aware of the fact that this is a significant risk. For many facilities, however, the safety stops at getting away from a fire, or attempting to put one out. Fire protection gear, like fire resistant clothing is all too often overlooked or ignored completely.
FR clothing isn’t just for firemen who make a living working with fires. It can be an important piece of protective gear for anyone who works with, or around fire, chemicals or high levels of heat. Facilities should take a close look at the different fire risks that exist, and see where this type of protective clothing can be helpful.
Types of FR Clothing
There are many different types of FR clothing available to choose from. Anything from a full fire protection suit that resists both heat and fire to a normal outfit made of fire resistant materials (such as this FR Coat), it is important to find the right one. According to SafetyCheckBox.com, the basic types of fire resistant clothing are:
- Basic FR Clothing – Any clothing that is made from a fire resistant material such as wool, which is naturally resistant to heat and light flame. Of course, this level of protection won’t be enough for a full flame, or extended exposure to high heat.
- Arc Flash Rated Clothing – Any clothes that meet the ASTM F1506 standard can be said to be arc flash rated clothing. This type of clothing (like this arc flash clothing) should not have metal parts like buttons or zippers. Arc fires are typically very brief, so the clothing needs to protect from high heat, but only for a short period of time. Arch fires can occur extremely quickly as well, so there is no time to prepare for them, which is why having this protective clothing should be a requirement.
- Flash Fire Rated Clothing – Flash fires can burn longer than arc fires since they are burning a flammable substance like dust, gas or liquid mists. These fires typically burn longer, but at lower temperatures, so flame resistance is more critical than heat resistance.
- Heat Resistant FR Clothing – There are many instances when people work with high temperatures, but no flame. High temperatures can cause some materials to ignite, which is why a heat resistant material is so important. In addition to resisting ignition, this type of clothing should also keep the heat away from the body of the person wearing it.
Facility Clothing Restrictions
In addition to choosing clothing that is fire resistant and encouraging employees to wear it, many facilities will need to restrict the types of clothing people can wear. This is because some fabrics or materials can actually make fire or heat related injuries more likely.
Polyester, for example, doesn’t just catch on fire when it is exposed to high temperatures. It will actually melt as it burns, causing the person wearing it to be in significant danger. Letting employees know of these types of risks, as well as requiring everyone to avoid wearing these types of things, is absolutely essential for proper fire safety in a facility.
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Fire Resistant Clothing Training
As with most things related to safety, the proper use of FR clothing will begin with proper training. Teaching employees how to identify different types of fire resistant clothing, as well as when they should each be worn is essential for a proper fire safety program. Some of the more protective clothing may even require training on how to properly wear it for maximum protection.
Providing employees with the right training is essential in all areas of their job, and when it comes to fire safety, it is even more critical. Take some time to show everyone why FR clothing is important, and what can happen if it is not worn. This will not only help to ensure everyone is more willing to wear it, but also ensure they know how it should be worn.
Part of an Overall Fire Safety Program
FR clothing should be an important piece of any comprehensive fire safety program in your facility. In many cases, having this type of clothing worn in a facility can help to reduce or eliminate the risk of fires from occurring. In addition, it will provide improved protection to anyone who is wearing it, which is essential for real fire safety. There are many stories from facilities throughout the country of people getting severely burned when they should have been protected by FR clothing.
Companies wouldn’t consider requiring their employees to bring in their own fire extinguishers or smoke detectors, so they shouldn’t be making them purchase their own fire resistant clothing either. By providing a standard set of FR clothing to employees it will not only be improving the fire safety of the facility, but also provide a nice uniform look for all the employees.
In most cases, purchasing basic fire protective clothing isn’t going to cost much more than regular clothes. Depending on the specific type you purchase, it may even last quite a bit longer due to the added durability, so it could be more cost effective than you would think. Whether you decide to provide FR clothing to everyone in the facility, or just those that are working near flame or high temperatures, this is a great way to help keep everyone safe.