There are various types of flame-retardant workwear, and each of them must comply with different regulations to ensure the safety of the operator in various work areas. Each specific regulation guarantees the performance characteristics that each garment must meet to protect the worker from potential dangers related to fire and excessive heat.
What fire-retardant clothing protects against
When discussing fire protection, we refer to all measures aimed at minimising damage to both people and property and limiting its consequences as much as possible.
When working in proximity to open flames or in environments with potential flame presence, it is crucial to use protective clothing that guards against this type of hazard. Flame-retardant clothing is made of non-flammable material or material that delays or reduces the possibility of combustion. This fabric is designed to withstand exposure to extremely elevated temperatures, providing excellent protection against flames and slowing down the rate of burning.
Scope of Application
Fire-retardant clothing is primarily intended to shield the body from heat and flames.
Various types of flame-retardant garments have specific characteristics tailored to the risks the operator may encounter. Each type is regulated by additional standards that further specify their performance characteristics. These include:
- Protective clothing against limited flame spread.
- Protective clothing against heat and flame.
- Protective clothing for welding and related processes.
- Work clothing for firefighters.
- Work clothing for forest and vegetation fires.
- Work clothing for oil and gas operators.
Now, let us delve into the details of the regulations for different types of fireproof work uniforms.
UNI EN ISO 14116 – PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AGAINST LIMITED FLAME SPREAD
EN ISO 14116 specifies performance requirements for materials, material assemblies, and limited flame spread protective clothing. Clothing certified under EN 14116 protects the user from brief and accidental contact with heat or sparks. The purpose is to reduce the likelihood of a garment catching fire during brief, occasional contact with small flames in areas without significant flame or excessive heat hazards. For prolonged exposure to heat, additional protection should be employed.
To learn more about the 14116:2015 standard, click here.
UNI EN ISO 11612 – PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AGAINST HEAT AND FLAME
UNI EN ISO 11612 specifies characteristics for clothing made of flexible materials designed to protect the operator from enveloping flames and continuous, intense radiant heat in specific high-risk firefighting and rescue operations.
Protective clothing with this certification must provide protection for the operator exposed to heat and fire. This standard does not cover hand protection, and for head and foot protection, only gaiters, hoods, and boot covers fall under the certification.
To learn more about the 11612:2015 standard, click here.
UNI EN ISO 11611 – PROTECTIVE CLOTHING FOR WELDING AND RELATED PROCESSES
Protective clothing for welding is primarily designed to safeguard the body from hazards associated with the welding process. The UNI EN ISO 11611 standard specifies minimum safety requirements for accident-prevention clothing to be worn during welding and welding-related procedures.
Clothing with this certification protects the operator from sparks, brief contact with elevated temperatures, reduces the risk of electric shock in possible contact with electrical wires, and protects against molten metal splashes.
To learn more about the 11611:2015 standard, click here.
UNI EN 469 – PROTECTIVE CLOTHING FOR FIREFIGHTERS – PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING FOR FIREFIGHTING ACTIVITIES
Protective clothing for firefighters aims to shield operators during firefighting activities. The UNI EN 469 standard outlines requirements concerning the design, fit, visibility, chemical, mechanical, and heat and flame resistance of uniforms.
The certification also guarantees the minimum performance levels of uniform materials, including test methods for determining those performance levels. This standard does not cover clothing for protecting the operator’s head, hands, and feet, nor does it address many other hazards of a different nature that may arise in rescue situations. These aspects are addressed by other regulations.
To learn more about the 469:2020 standard, click here.
UNI EN ISO 15614 – PROTECTIVE CLOTHING FOR FIREFIGHTERS – LABORATORY TEST METHODS AND PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR FOREST FIRE AND/OR VEGETATION CLOTHING
UNI EN ISO 15614 specifies minimum performance requirements for protective clothing for the operator, except for head, hands, and feet, in forest and vegetation firefighting.
This certification specifically addresses the design of garments, the strength of individual materials used, and the overall performance of the finished garment.
To learn more about the 15614:2007 standard, click here.
General Requirements for Flameproof Clothing
Flame-retardant clothing primarily falls into two categories based on the material from which it is made:
- Flame-retardant fabric
- Inherently fireproof
A flame-retardant fabric is a type of fabric treated with flame-retardant (FR) products. The most commonly used flame retardants are based on aluminium, magnesium, boron, red phosphorus, and nitrogen. These materials interrupt the combustion cycle by reducing the rate of heat transfer to the polymer.
The process of making fabrics flame retardant involves the use of toxic, potentially hazardous, or allergenic substances. Flame-retardant fabric is considered “expiring,” with the number of washes for which the garment guarantees flame-retardant properties indicated on the garment label. These properties gradually diminish after this specified number of washes. It is advisable to coordinate with laundries to keep track of the number of washings.
Inherently flame-retardant fabric, on the other hand, does not undergo any treatment because it is composed of naturally flame-retardant fibres. In this case, the flame-resistant properties do not degrade, even after maintenance and washing, due to their inherent characteristics. As these fabrics haven’t undergone surface fixing treatments, they are free from potentially toxic substances and can be safely washed at home. Garments made from this type of fabric are used, for instance, by individuals working on oil rigs in isolated areas without access to specialised laundries.
Learn about the features of other certified garments:
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