Whether you are fighting a fire, performing fiery stunts, working with metal or glass, or living dangerously in your kitchen, fire-resistant clothing can add a valuable level of protection. There are about as many flame-resistant clothing options to choose from as there are ways to burn yourself. If you require this type of clothing on the job, most of the decisions about what to wear will be made for you. But that still leaves all the hours off the clock, when you may require protection while performing your jobs and hobbies around the house or in the wilderness.
Flame Resistant Material
Fire-resistant material is categorized as either inherent or treated. Some materials naturally, or inherently, resist combustion, while others can be treated so they don’t burn when exposed to direct flame. For almost all applications, an inherent fire-resistant material will be of higher quality, provide better protection, and last longer than a treated material. However, it will also be more expensive. So, depending on the intended use and expected frequency of use and flame exposure, a treated material may be sufficient for your needs.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) maintains standards for both types of resistant materials. NFPA standards 2112 and 2113 lay the groundwork for the industry to certify their garments into one of four hazard categories. These are clearly detailed in the shipboard electrical section. Although this might seem odd, the same categories that apply onboard a ship also apply to any fire or electrical protective clothing. Reference these categories when evaluating your hazards, and you’ll know where to start looking for flame-resistant materials. Thanks to the NFPA, flame-resistant materials are clearly labeled with their protection capabilities.
Dupont created the Nomex fiber that has become nearly ubiquitous in industries working directly with fire. It provides a high level of protection and is very durable. Drifire and DragonWear are two more examples of brands that provide fire-resistant protective wear. When exploring your options, pay attention to testimonials and look for descriptions of how the fabric is tested. Any major brand should follow the requirements set forth by the NFPA to ensure the clothing performs as advertised. If you feel that there is something odd about the methods used to test the material, then that’s a red flag. You should look elsewhere for clothing that fits your needs.
Cleaning Fire-Resistant Clothing
It doesn’t matter how much research you do or how much cash you spend on your fire-resistant wear. If you don’t take care of it and keep it clean, it won’t do its job and you’ll end up injured as a result. Any dirt or oil on the material, or any damage from past wear and tear, will very severely decrease the effectiveness of your protection. Upkeep and replacement when necessary is essential.
Fire-resistant materials are not only used for clothes. You would be hard-pressed to find a tent or sleeping bag that is not made of a material that is treated to at least a moderate level of fire resistance. Despite that, the same cleaning and care standards that apply to your clothes also apply to these camping accessories. They may actually be more important because it’s unlikely that your tent is going to be inherently flame-resistant. As treatments wear off, your risk of being charbroiled in your sleeping bag increases and, while they may appreciate the snack, the bears don’t need your calories that much.
Ultimately, it’s just not possible to point to the product that will serve as your best bet in all situations. Think objectively about your risks, research several brands looking for the NFPA ratings, consider how those ratings were measured, and take good care of the material that you decide is going to keep you safe.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.