Flame resistant (FR) fabrics used in protective clothing can be categorized into two groups: FR treated or inherently FR.
Both varieties of fabric undergo rigorous testing and must demonstrate flammability characteristics that are durable enough to last for the useful life of the garment.
FR treated fabrics are commonly made of 100% cotton or a blend of 88% cotton and 12% nylon. All weights of both blends are treated with a finish that, when cured with ammonia gas, leaves phosphorus chemically bonded to the cotton. This treatment is durable to laundering as long as recommended procedures are followed. The use of products containing chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide to clean garments made of FR treated cotton or cotton blends is not recommended; repeated exposure to these substances could destroy the chemistry that provides the flame resistant characteristics of the fabric.
Fabrics described as “inherently FR” are made of fibers whose chemical structure will prevent them from sustaining combustion. This FR characteristic is built into the fiber and cannot be washed out or worn off. Adhering to recommended guidelines for cleaning garments made of inherently FR fabrics will prevent excessive shrinkage or color loss during the laundering process.
In order to optimize performance, it is essential that FR clothing be kept clean. If a garment becomes contaminated with a flammable substance, the flame resistance of that garment may be compromised leaving the wearer with a reduced level of protection. Likewise, the use of starch or fabric softeners is not recommended because they too can become deposited on fabric in amounts that eventually could support combustion.
Both FR treated and inherently FR garments from Bulwark provide superior flame resistant protection. In making the choice between treated or inherently FR garments, consideration should be given not only to protection but also comfort, durability and cost.
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