FAQs about Flame Resistant Fabrics: Taking a Closer Look

There can be many questions about flame resistant workwear, whether you are questioning the HRC level of a garment, what standards it meets, or what options are available. When it comes down to it, however, the fabric of the garment is going to be the crucial factor in keeping you comfortable on the job, and protected against flash fires and electrical arcs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the frequently asked questions about flame resistant fabrics, and see how the answers can help you choose better garments to keep you safer on the job.

The first question you might have is: What is the best FR fiber or fabric?

The answer will depend on your job. There is not one, all perfect, flame resistant garment that will meet the specific needs of each person and job. The fabrics used for flame resistant garments are either treated to become FR, like cotton, or they are inherently flame resistant, like Nomex. Each fabric has specific properties that will be a benefit or a shortcoming depending on the use of the garment. It is important to research the different fabrics available, choosing the best one for your needs. Click here to find detailed descriptions of the fibers and fabrics currently used to manufacture FR work apparel.  If you are unsure of what you need, talk to your safety manager or employer to find out what is required by law. Once you know the standards you need to meet, and the nature of your hazard, a customer service representative will be able to direct you to the different options available for you.

Another common question is: What is meant by Ammonia Cure and Heat Cure?

You might see this on the website, or on a tag, and wonder what exactly it means. Cotton, for example, is not a naturally flame resistant fabric. It becomes flame resistant through a treatment process, applying a flame retardant. The finish can be a phosphonium salt precondensate polymerized with gaseous ammonia (THPOH-NH3), or it can be a heat-cured dialkylphosphonamide. Each of these processes have the end result of binding the flame retardant to the cotton fiber, creating durable FR fabric. Neither process has a big effect on how the fabric feels or performs, as they have the same end goal. They are simply two ways of doing the same thing. Some common fabrics produced by the “ammonia cure” process are AMTEX® by Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., Banwear® by ITEX, Inc. and INDURA® Ultra Soft® by Westex Inc.

Anyone in need of flame resistant garments usually has a number of questions about the fabric, or specific workwear, to ensure the safety of the wearer. This blog post, and the next, will help you to have a better understanding of some of the questions we hear the most often. If your question isn’t answered here, or on the website, call a customer service representative, or email us! We would love the opportunity to provide you with the best possible understanding of the flame resistant workwear we offer.