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Flame Resistant Clothing Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for Combustible Dust FAQs

What does FR stand for?
Flame Resistant. It refers to the ability of a material to self-extinguish upon the removal of an ignition source.

What does FRC stand for?
Flame Resistant Clothing. It is quite common that safety minded customers refer to Safety Garments or Flame Resistant Apparel simply as "FRC." It is also quite common to see these letters in bids or quotes for safety garments.

Who wears Flame Resistant (FR) garments?
People who work in hazardous environments that may involve the following hazards: Electric Arc (electricians, electric utility lineman, etc.), Flash Fire (refinery, chemical and pharmaceutical workers, etc.) Combustible Dust Explosion (workers in the paper and pulp industry, food processing, paint, and many more industries). Plus ANY workers who come in contact with energized electrical equipment.

What is ATPV?
ATPV stands for Arc Thermal Performance Value, which is a rating of the Arc burn protection capability of a garment. The higher the number, the more protection.

Where do I find a garment's Arc Ratings?
Arc Ratings can be found on many garment labels or are available from your work clothing supplier. Typically a Flame Resistant garment is chosen based on the employer's hazard analysis, which determines the potential incident energy in the work environment.

What are Hazard Risk Categories?
Hazard Risk Categories (HRC) are specified in the NFPA 70E safety standard, based on specific job tasks. Five categories range from Hazard Risk Category 0, that allows untreated 100% cotton, up to Category 4, that requires an FR shirt and pants plus a double layer switching coat and pants. (NOTE: As of the 2009 edition of NFPA 70E, all garments for HRC 1 through 4 MUST be Flame Resistant. Older editions of the standard allowed for "layering" solutions using 100% cotton, non-FR T-Shirts worn under rated FRC.

What level of FR clothing protection is typically needed?
A Flame Resistant garment is usually chosen based on an employer's own hazard analysis, which determines the right clothes for the potential incident energy exposures in a given work environment. Taking into account NFPA standard 70E, roughly 90% of all electrical trade workers generally fall into Category 1 and 2, meaning they require FRC with an ATPV rating of 8 or higher.

What is Tecasafe® PLUS and why haven’t I heard about it before?
Tecasafe Plus from TenCate Protective Fabrics is the newest fabric innovation in Flame Resistant technology. You get all the benefits of FR cotton, including higher ATPV ratings and softer, more comfortable fabric. Tecasafe Plus is "inherently" Flame Resistant, combining the best features of all fabric options. Tecasafe Plus is a blend of three inherently FR fibers, combining the best attributes of the three (flame resistance, strength, comfort).

Are CXP Nomex® and Nomex® the same?
Yes and no. Dupont is the sole manufacturer of Nomex fiber. CXP Nomex from Milliken is manufactured using a patented process in which traditional Nomex IIIA fiber is combined with Kevlar using a special weave for a noticeably softer and more comfortable wear than traditional Nomex…but retains all the protective quality levels.

Are Indura® and Indura® Ultra Soft™ the same?
No... while both fabrics are from the same fabric converter (Westex), they are different. Both are good products, both are FR Cotton and both are FR treated for the life of the garment, but they are significantly different. Indura® is chemically treated 100% cotton. Indura® Ultra Soft™ is made of 88% FR Cotton and 12% Nylon woven together to make the garment much more durable and comfortable. This makes the garment last longer through industrial laundering and increases the garments’ ATPV or Arc Rating.

Isn't Nylon flammable or meltable?
Yes... but in the case of Indura® Ultra Soft™, it's a very small amount blended or woven tightly on the inside of the fabric of Indura® FR Cotton. The combination produces an excellent product for maximum protection.

Is it "the law" that some workers are required to wear Flame Resistant Clothing (FRC)?
That depends on how the company (employer) interprets the law. The OSHA General Duty Clause states: "the clothing cannot contribute to an employee’s injury." In the case of an electrician or utility lineman, polyester blended clothing (which will burn, melt and drip at a low temperature) can certainly contribute to the worker’s injury. Many employers choose FRC for their workers simply because it is the right thing to do to protect their workers while reducing their own liability.

Is 100% cotton a "safety" fabric?
NO. While 100% cotton offers better protection than 65/35, cotton fabric can and will ignite and continue to burn if exposed to an ignition source.

Can Flame Resistant garments "lose" their Flame Resistant properties after many industrial washings?
Some can. But UniFirst offers only fabrics that are protective for the life of the garment...either inherently or via special fiber treatment. In the case of FR treated cotton, certain detergents are harmful to the FR treatment. While these harmful detergents are not found in our Industrial Wash formulas, this makes a great case for a fully managed uniform service from UniFirst. In the case of home washing, our inherent FR fabrics have no home washing concerns.

Is one fabric or garment better or safer than another?
NO. They all have their proper place in the safety market, though one may be preferred over another depending on the application.

Can FR garments be washed at home or is that not a good idea?
It is always best to allow a professional industrial laundry service provider to care for these garments. Chlorine bleach and Hydrogen Peroxides found in some detergents can degrade the FR properties. Additionally, our industrial laundering methods ensure that we remove ALL potentially flammable materials and soils that may build-up on the surface of these safety garments. (NOTE: with "inherently" Flame Resistant fabrics (Tecasafe Plus & CXP Nomex), there is less reason for home laundering concerns.

Are there any other reasons that FR garments should be Rented/Leased and professionally maintained instead of home washed?
Yes, take repairs for example. UnFirst repairs FR garments with like FR mending and repair materials. And employers should also consider size changes for employees that may require alterations or replacements.

Are UniFirst Armorex FR® garments good for ALL hazardous FR needs?
No... UniFirst offers other options for SPECIFIC industries. One example of this is for the molten aluminum metal industry. There are specific fabrics that resist or shed molten aluminum called Vinex® and Oasis. These fabrics are made specifically to protect against molten aluminum. Vinex® is made by Westex while Oasis is made by Tencate.

Does this product (Vinex®) have an ATPV or Arc Rating?
No, as it is not applicable. Arc Ratings pertain to workers who are in contact with or in proximity to electrical equipment and the Vinex product is for a different type of hazard (molten aluminum which is at 1750 degrees F).

I've seen workers wearing FRC, which is good. BUT these folks wore short sleeve shirts. Isn't that dangerous?
Yes. These workers are taking the risk of having their arms severely burned in the event of an accident. It's quite simple: the more "coverage" that you have, the safer you will be.

My company purchases our FRC directly from FR garment manufacturers….why Rent/Lease these garments?
With Rent/Lease, there's virtually no up-front investment. Renting or Leasing FR garments eliminates the capital investment of purchasing FR safety garments. UniFirst will repair or replace damaged garments, reducing costs. We use only the detergents and washing procedures that are recommended for FR garments. UniFirst manages the procurement and receiving process of these expensive garments. There are many advantages of having us do what we do best. Its called: SERVICE.

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