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What are Some of the Main Fire-Retardant Fabric Regulations?


Flame Retardant Fabrics must undergo valid standard tests to make sure the safety and protection of the workers at any level. Even if the particular fabric is in non-industrial use, the industrial wear must be approved through certain regulations before the desired use. All these regulations are mandatory and not supposed to be taken lightly to prevent loss of life and any other injury.

To check whether the cloth is worthy of being labeled as Flame Retardant; first of all the resistance tests are held to check the time period of the wear. When it starts to burn it means the maximum limit to resist fire has been reached and no further contact with fire is tolerated. One thing to be noted that this resistance has a maximum reach of twelve seconds. More than twelve seconds does not lie in the category of fire resistance or retardant fabric. Over this range, the fireproof category is started.

Before we determine the resistance /retardant levels; fabrics’ two attributes are measured to scale a standard rate. They are:
  • Ease of Ignition
  • The speed of Flame Spread
This is done by mounting the textile at an angle of forty-five degrees along with exposure to the ignition. During this, if the material is ignited the flame will spread. 

Fire Retardant Fabric Regulations

Up till now, three types of results have been recorded that describe the retardant or resistance level of the fabric.

One is the After-Flame where the fabric starts to burn in the tenths of seconds while in contact with the flame. Second is the Afterglow where the material starts glowing after the tenths of seconds and the last one indicates the length of the cloth. It is called Char-Length where the fabric is destroyed in the tenths of inches.

After these tests, three classes are generated to classify the resistant or retardant level. The first one is called Normal, then its Intermediate Level and finally the Rapid one. The Normal one takes at least four or more seconds to start the burning the fiber. The Intermediate Level takes four to seven seconds and in the Rapid section, the fabric is instantly destroyed; i.e. a matter of zero tolerance. At the normal level, there is a wide chance that the fabric might not start to burn even after four seconds.

Workers in the industrial field exposing themselves to flash fire hazards require two main standard regulations for safety and protection. For that, precautionary measures are taken properly two basic regulations. One is NFPA 2112 Standard on flame retardant fabric and the other one is NFPA 2113 to check and maintain the level of defense for the labor.

The performance of the fabric should be on the go even after several cycles of washing and drying. Dry cleaning includes in this check. It is usually called the Thermal Protective Performance that can be checked in two ways:

In-Contact TTP Check

In this test, the material stays in contact with the sensor assembly and the minimum rating required to approve this test is 3.0.

Spacer TTP Check

This test is conducted while the material is separated from the sensor assembly at a distance of a ¼ inch. The number is 6.0 for the minimum rating.

All fabrics should be able to pass through these tests for FR requirements. This creates a particular standard for the workwear to be used in any industry along with construction and station work. Firefighters got the protection under the standard regulation since 1975.

If we look past back, we get to know that in the year 1999, the standard regulation was upgraded to work on a more flexible term. The material was made from either FR properties or from hundred percent cotton or wool.

Moreover, various options are there to attain that fulfill the requirement of the workers who are working under the risk of electric arcs. All the workwear fabric must have cleared the regular standards to minimize the risk of injuries. There must be an arc rating on the fabric label.  After-Flame should not exceed the limit of two seconds and for electric arc exposures, the maximum number is five. Standard Char Length is normally six inches.

Furthermore, there is also a range of Arc and FR rainwear. They come under the standard Regulation of ASTM Specification F1891. The material is tested with minimum physical performance along with the thermal performance. Also, the test of water pressure 30 PSIG should be cleared without any leakage for the approval of such fabric.

For all these approved garments, besides the labors and workers; the employers also carry the responsibility to crosscheck the garments before delivering them to their employees to ensure their safety and of the co-workers.

One should have knowledge of the accidents that can occur during the job in this industry. The most common reasons are discussed as under:

Reasons for Accidents

Electrical discharges with high energy usually create such an incident. During that, the one working must be wearing the workwear fabric that is approved and properly tested as fire retardant industrial wear. Other arc events can lead to the same incident. Also, if the worker gets in contact with molten metal that is high in temperature; or comes in contact with the sparks welding can cause the accident very severely, in the absence of fire-resistant fabrics. Open flames are very usual if someone happens to come in contact. Plus, flammable liquids, combustible dust, an explosion of vapors, volatile liquids and flammable gasses are more examples for an injury incident to occur. In addition, workers are exposed to harmful liquids while carrying out their job which poses a serious hazard if proper acidproof fabrics are not worn, during work.

In the end, it is important to note while selecting the FR workwear fabric to choose the one that suits your work environment, requirements, and specified needs over best grounds. The technical requirements should be remembered precisely; what metal is being used, the thermal protection, static resistance, stability and most of all the durability of the product. All of this, along with your personal needs, the physical appearance, color and the level of comfort should be approved by the company or the industrial workwear supplier. The arc rating should be visible and marked over the fabric to ensure the safety of everyone working under such risky and dangerous conditions; obviously for clarity.