In order for flame-resistant (FR) clothing to do its job properly, an organization and its wearers need to follow some simple use and care instructions, as well as basic limitation guidelines.
There are a few basic use rules that wearers of FR clothing need to follow. The following list was developed using NFPA 2113 Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire. There may be other rules established by the organization provided to its workers with FR garments, but these basic rules are a good start.
- Provide wearers with the basic manufacturer’s instructions for care, use and maintenance.
- The garments should be worn as described by the manufacturer.
- Collars should be worn closed.
- Sleeves and cuffs should be worn down and secure.
- Shirts should be worn tucked in.
- Protection for the wearer’s neck, head, hands and feet should be provided when needed.
- Don’t wear non-FR garments over FR garments.
- Only wear FR or non-melting undergarments.
- Don’t wear garments that have been contaminated.
- Don’t wear garments that are in need of repair or replacement.
- Don’t wear garments that do not fit properly. If they are too tight, they are not as protective. If they are too loose, they can become caught in machinery or equipment.
These are a sampling of basic rules that will be helpful in wearing FR garments properly. Your specific situation and hazards may require others.
Organizations and wearers need to understand that the garments’ performance can be compromised if not cared for properly. The first rule is to follow all the manufacturer’s care instructions. Generally, all FR fabrics require the same basic care instructions, which include:
- Wash new FR garments prior to wearing.
- Wash separately from standard clothing.
- Use hot water (140º F) and heavy duty detergent.
- Do not use soap.
- Do not use chlorine bleach.
- Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
- Do not line dry or store in sunlight. UV exposure can cause premature fading.
Make sure FR garments are clean and in proper repair before each wearing, and ensure that oils and flammable contaminants are removed. Repair garments using only FR fabric, thread and components, or return garments to the manufacturer or an authorized FR repair facility.
FR garments are primarily designed for protection against flash fire and electric arc flash hazards. There are hazards for which they are not designed to protect against. Workers should be instructed as to the limitations of FR garments including:
- Continuous thermal exposures
- Molten metal splash
- Hot liquids
- Worn alone for structural firefighting or other firefighting activities
The user is responsible for determining the level of hazard and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) needed. Only those who are properly trained to understand the garments’ requirements and care instructions are qualified to wear them. If someone is unsure as to the protection level required at a worksite, they should consult the employer.