What is the difference between Flame Retardant & Flame Resistant Clothing?

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Commonly referred to as FR clothing, 'flame resistant' is used when clothing items are designed and specifically manufactured to protect wearers from potential intermittent flames and thermal exposure. Wearing such garments in higher risk environments can minimise the severity of an injury.

Tests have shown that with the appropriate layering of flame resistant garments can give optimal protection, including resistance in breaking open, which would then expose skin to hazards. The additional benefit is that these FR garments offer those vital few seconds to react in hazardous situations.

Clothing that isn't FR, does not resist ignition, and once it has caught fire it will continue to burn until it is extinguished or until all of the flammable material has been consumed and there is nothing left to burn.

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What's the difference between flame-resistant, fire-resistant and fire-retardant?

When it comes to ultimate fire protection, it's important to understand the differences between terminology you might hear being thrown around.

Here are the major differences between the three common phrases:

  • Flame-resistant: Naturally resistant to flames, garments that are flame-resistant are made from inherently nonflammable fabrics and materials such as DuPont™ Nomex® with their particular chemical structure. Although the fabric may be able to catch fire, they will either self-extinguish or burn extremely slowly. The great selling point of these garments and its materials are that they prevent the further spread of fire.

    Rather than release gas to smother the flame of oxygen, the fibres will resist, swell and become thicker, which then adds a protective barrier between the heat source and the wearer's skin. The fibres do not burn, melt or drop when exposed to heat or flame.

  • Fire-resistant: Fire and flame resistant are the same thing. People may have a preference in terminology, but don't be confused - it's just an alternate and can be used interchangeably.

  • Fire-retardant: Unlike flame resistant clothing, fire-retardant fabrics have undergone chemical treatment in order to gain some of the same properties flame-resistant fabrics inherently have. As a result, flame-retardant fabrics become self-extinguishing and slow-burning.

    Due to the process, any type of fabric may be used, but it must undergo this treatment before the claim that can be made that an item is flame retardant.


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Our Flame Resistant range here at Wray Bros has been curated so that items can be potentially layered together to provide that extra safety when every second is vital. Browse today to see how our garments could protect you in your environment.