Flame-resistant clothing is a necessity for employees working in environments where flash fires or explosions are a concern. There is a wide variety of fire retardant fabrics available to meet the needs of an HRC 1 or HRC 2 situation. Knowing the difference between these fabrics and their uses can help save your life.
DuPont Nomex is an inherently flame-resistant anti-static fabric that has been engineered to reduce nuisance levels of static. It will not ignite, melt, drip, or burn, and is self-extinguishing. These qualities make it ideal as an all-around fabric for applications in the petrochemical, gas, electric, and fire service industries, as well as for other professional uses. A single layer of 4.5 ounce Nomex has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 4.6, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
TenCate Advance combines the dependability of Nomex in situations that require flame resistance with the rugged strength and durability of Kevlar to form a uniquely hardworking fabric that provides uncompromising performance when you need it for strength and durability far surpassing either alone. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Advance has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.5, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
TenCate TecaSafe Plus
TenCate TecaSafe Plus is an inherently flame-resistant fabric that delivers NFPA 70E category 2 electrical arc protection while remaining comfortable and lightweight. It also meets the performance requirements of the NFPA 2112 – Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire. This fabric gives exceptional value due to its excellent after wash appearance, good color fastness, durability, and long life cycle. A single layer of 7.0 ounce TecaSafe Plus has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.4, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
Reliant EMC (engineered modacrylic cotton) is an inherently flame-resistant knit fabric designed to smother flames when exposed to fiber. The protective qualities of modacrylic fiber are locked in and cannot be washed or worn out regardless of usage. This knit fabric combines the comfort, softness, and breathability of combed cotton with uncompromised fire resistant protection. Reliant has not currently been rated under NFPA 70E standards.
Indura is a 100% cotton fabric treated with a permanent flame-resistant finish. Indura offers affordable, comfortable protection and is most popular in industrial applications for protection against potential risks associated with welding and similar activities. Indura retains the properties of natural cotton for comfort and absorbancy purposes. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Indura has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 7.7, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
Indura Ultra Soft is a cotton / nylon blend of fabric treated with a permanent flame-resistant finish. The addition of high tenacity nylon increases the wear life of the garment significantly without compromising the garment’s comfort. Indura Ultra Soft fabric is designed to withstand regular industrial launderings and provides excellent protection from flash fires as well as electrical arc flash exposure. A single layer of 7.0 ounce Indura has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 8.7, and qualifies as HRC 2 protection.
FireWear is an inherently flame-resistant fabric blended from cotton and fibrous flame-retardant fiber designed to smother flames when exposed to fire. The FFR Fiber is designed to emit a noncombustible gas through microscopic pores in the fiber when the fiber is exposed to flame. This gas smothers flames much like a fire extinguisher. Firewear fabrics are blended with cotton and thus have many of the same benefits as cotton, including breathability and lightweight comfort. A single layer of 5.5 ounce FireWear has an NFPA 70E arc rating of 7.0, and qualifies as HRC 1 protection.
There are many choices for the user looking to purchase a flame resistant garment. Verify that the material you are purchasing is rated for the task you intend to perform; HRC 3 or 4 requirements usually require additional full layered suits, whereas one or two layers of the fabrics listed here is usually sufficient for HRC 1 or 2 requirements. For a more in-depth explanation of hazard risk categories, see my previous article, Understanding Hazard Risk Categories.
Some of the information in this article was provided with the assistance of Topps Safety Apparel, manufacturers of flame-resistant coveralls, jumpsuits, public safety uniforms, and other apparel. Anchortex Corporation is a full line leading distributor of Topps Safety Apparel.