Flammable materials, gases, and fuels create dangerous work conditions. If your job puts you at a site with heightened fire danger, you’re probably required to wear protective clothing. But when you go to buy shirts and pants that will meet your job’s requirements, you may come across confusing labels. What’s the difference between flame-resistant vs. flame-retardant clothing?

Flame-Resistant Clothes

Flame-resistant (FR) clothes use fabrics that have inherent flame-extinguishing properties. In other words, when a flame contacts a shirt made of flame-resistant fabric, it will go out rather than igniting the shirt and potentially causing severe injury to the wearer. Flame resistance means that flames and cinders won’t spread on flame-resistant fabric. The fabric causes cinders, sparks, and flames to self-extinguish.

Flame-Retardant Clothes

Flame-retardant clothing also keeps sparks and small flames from igniting an entire garment. However, unlike flame-resistant clothes, flame-retardant clothing has been chemically treated to cause sparks and flame to self-extinguish when they come into contact with the fabric.

Chemical flame retardants became controversial in some garments, especially children’s sleepwear. There were concerns that these coatings could be absorbed through the skin and damage DNA. Sleepwear is not required to be tight-fitting or flame-resistant.

Flame-retardant clothing also requires special care. Every time you launder flame-retardant clothes, a bit of the flame-retardant chemical washes away. Be especially attentive to care instructions if you choose flame-retardant clothing.


Although flame-resistant clothing is necessary to protect workers in dangerous industries, such as oil and gas, welding, or forging, some people are reluctant to wear the required clothes because they’re concerned about comfort. They believe flame-resistant clothing will be too hot, too cold, too scratchy, too stiff, or just plain uncomfortable.

But L4 FR long-sleeve FR shirts are made to be comfortable even in extreme conditions. We’ve worked hard to create garments that are breathable and can be layered with other pieces. They’re designed to enable you to move the way you need to, with ventilation properties that keep you comfortable even in extreme weather conditions. Shop our collection today.

Brittany Williams