It is important to know the working condition of your garment to ensure that it will properly protect you. If the garment needs repairing, do so with appropriate materials. If the garment needs replacing, don’t wait. Your safety could be at risk.
FR garments can be expensive to replace, so being able to properly repair a damaged garment can be a cost effective way to reduced expenses. However, there are a few basic guidelines that should be followed when engaging in FR garment repair.
Here are some basic guidelines for effectively repairing FR clothing:
1. Always repair using fabric consistent with the original fabric used in the garment. Other fabric types may react differently to both thermal exposure and laundering.
2. Use inherently FR thread for any repair. The use of non-FR thread can compromise the performance of the garment.
3. Other components like zippers, buttons, knit cuffs, draw strings, reflective tape, etc should also be rated as being FR. These components may seem minor but non-FR versions can also compromise the effectiveness of the garment during an exposure.
At some point in the life of an FR garment there should be consideration to removing it from service due to basic wear and tear. For most practical purposes, garments may be removed from service based on subjective evaluation if after regular inspection the garment is found to be no longer capable to effectively protect the wearer. Ultimately the determination of when FR clothing is removed from service is the responsibility of the end user.
The following items, identifiable by visual examination, may diminish the effectiveness of FR clothing and should be cause for removing them from service:
1. Worn – Thin spots, holes, excessive wear or abrasion – for example, elbow or knee areas that can no longer be repaired.
2. Mechanical Damage – Evidence of cuts, rips, tears, open seams, and nonfunctional closures that can no longer be repaired.
3. Garments that are found to have been modified or altered in a manner that differs significantly from the original design.
4. If the garment no longer fits the wearer properly – either too big or too small – it should be replaced. If the garment is too big, it can be a physical hazard and if the garment is too small, it looses some of its thermal protection. FR garments should have a looser fit to allow the air gap between the wearer and the garment to help with insulation.
5. If the garment has flammable substances that cannot be removed by cleaning – substances such as solvents, solids, oils and other petroleum products – as they represent a flammability risk. The presence of a petroleum or chemical odor can be evidence of a flammable substance.
Clothing soiled with combustible or flammable chemicals should be handled carefully and in accordance with pre-established procedures. Failure to fully remove these chemicals could compromise the flame resistant effectiveness of the garment. Garments soiled with hazardous chemicals should only be handled by qualified individuals with techniques approved for such materials.
Done properly, repairing FR garments can extend their useful life. If there are ever any questions about care and maintenance of FR clothing, contact the garment manufacturer or garment supplier for specific care and maintenance instructions for the fabrics or garments.