One worker dies every 99 minutes from a work-related injury these days. The result? Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial- especially in roles that pose significant health risks.
This often involves wearing fire retardant clothing. Purpose-made to keep flames at bay, these garments provide a vital defense against this deadly element. Want to find out how they’re made so you can choose the right ones for your needs?
Before we dive into the manufacturing process of fire retardant material, it’s important to distinguish between a few different terms in this field: flame resistant, fire-resistant, and fire retardant. Understanding each one will ensure that you know exactly what you’re buying.
Flame-resistant clothing is naturally non-flammable. By virtue of the fabric’s chemical structure, when exposed to flame, the fibers will burn slowly and, in some cases, even self-extinguish. These garments can still catch fire, then, but the materials help prevent it from spreading fast and far.
A synonym for flame-resistant, you’ll often see/hear these two terms used interchangeably. This can seem confusing at first, but rest assured that “fire-resistant” means exactly the same as what we described above!
Fire retardant clothing, like fire retardant shirts, has the same protective qualities as flame-resistant ones. They both slow combustion and self-extinguish.
The primary difference is that retardant garments achieve these results following a special chemical treatment instead of being inherently non-flammable. Any type of material can be used for this purpose, but it only qualifies as fire-retardant following this treatment.
The Manufacturing Process
Now we know what fire retardant clothing is, let’s turn to how it’s made. As we’ve seen, the basic engineering process involves a chemical treatment that makes standard fabric flame resistant.
Digging a little deeper, the fabrics get saturated in a special phosphorous-based flame-resistant solution. The next step involves a chemical reaction, which forms strong and long-lasting bonds within the fabric. The end product is a permanent, man-made material that’s slow-burning and self-extinguishing!
As for functionality, those fibers we mentioned break down when they’re exposed to fire. This creates a gaseous fuel, which then reacts with the phosphorous agent to form a char. Solid and stable, this char both eradicates the gas molecules and creates a barrier between the material and the fire itself.
Remember This Guide to Fire Retardant Clothing
Finding ways to protect people at work (and home!) from hazards in the environment is both a moral and legal imperative these days. Enter PPE. Specifically designed to prevent all manner of injuries, it makes a vital difference in dangerous workplaces.
And, as we’ve seen, one of the best examples of PPE is fire retardant clothing.
With any luck, the information in this post has shed useful light on what this is and how it’s made. Keep these insights in mind and you should be one step closer to finding FR garments that are fit-for-purpose. To learn more about this topic and others like it, be sure to browse the Tech section of the website now.