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 danger related to fire and excessive heat.
What fire retardant clothing protects against
Speaking of fire protection refers to all measures aimed at containing damage to people and property as much as possible and limiting its consequences.
When working in contact with open flames or the potential presence of flames, it is important to use work clothing that protects against this type of hazard. In fact, flame-retardant clothing is made of material that is non-flammable or that delays or reduces the possibility of combustion of the fabric or material. This type of fabric is made to withstand contact with very high temperatures, providing excellent protection from flames and slowing down burn times.
Scope of application
Fire retardant clothing is basically intended to protect the body from heat and flames.
There are different types of flame-retardant garments that have targeted characteristics depending on the risks to which the operator may be subjected, each of which is regulated by additional regulations that further specify their performance characteristics. These are:
- 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/or vegetation fires;
- Work clothing for oil and gas operators
Let’s look in detail at the various 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. EN 14116-certified clothing protects the user from brief and accidental contact with heat or sparks. The purpose is to reduce the possibility of a garment burning when it comes into occasional brief contact with small flames, in places where there are no significant flame or excessive heat hazards. Additional protection should be used in case of prolonged exposure to heat.
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 constant 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. Excluded from this standard is hand protection, and for head and foot the only items covered by the certification are gaiters, hoods and boot covers.
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 has the main purpose of protecting the body from hazards related to 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 high 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 is intended to protect operators during firefighting activities. Specifically, the UNI EN 469 standard presents requirements dealing with 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 that performance level. The standard does not address clothing that protects the operator’s head, hands and feet, as well as many other hazards of another nature that may arise in rescue situations. These latter aspects are dealt with by other legislation.
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 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
Fire-retardant clothing differs mainly into two types depending on the material from which it is made:
- Fire retardant fabric;
- Intrinsically fireproof.
A flame-retardant fabric is a type of fabric that has undergone flame retardant treatment with FR (flame retardant) products. The most commonly used Flame Retardants are based on Aluminium, Magnesium, Boron, Red Phosphorus, and Nitrogen. These materials have the role of interrupting the combustion cycle by reducing the rate of heat transfer to the polymer.
The process that makes fabrics flame retardant thus involves the use of toxic, potentially dangerous, or allergy-causing substances.
A flame-retardant fabric can be called “expiring”: the precise number of washes by which the garment guarantees intact flame-retardant properties is written on the garment label. After this number the properties gradually decay.
Laundries should be contacted to keep track of the number of washings.
A fabric is inherently flame retardant when it does not undergo any kind of treatment because it is made from naturally flame-retardant fibres. In this case, the flame-resistant properties do not decay, even after maintenance and washing, precisely because of the inherent characteristic. Since it has not undergone surface fixing treatments, it is therefore free of potentially toxic substances and can be safely washed at home.
Garments made from this type of fabric is used, for example, by people working on oil rigs who, working in an isolated area, do not have the option of turning to specific laundries.
Learn about the characteristics of other certified garments
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