You must wear the proper gear when working in environments with flammable materials or ignitable elements like sparks. Flame-resistant (FR) clothing is for these situations and has a chemical treatment that will protect you from getting burned if the clothes catch on fire. However, it's imperative to use it correctly, or it can lose its effectiveness. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when wearing fire-resistant clothing.

Not All FR Clothing Is the Same

While it’s true that FR clothing is fire resistant, not all FR clothing will protect you in every situation. FR clothing has different levels of protection, and some are better than others. For example, a t-shirt may provide some resistance to flames or heat but will not be able to withstand contact with sparks or direct flame. 

Don't Mix Clothing

A common mistake to avoid when wearing fire-resistant clothing is wearing it with your normal wardrobe items. You should never wear articles like a t-shirt or jeans that aren’t flame resistant over any type of FR clothing. Such garments are likely to burn through and expose the skin to heat and flames. If you work in a colder environment and need an FR hooded sweatshirt, get it. It’ll be a safer choice than a regular one.

Adjust Your Laundry

If you've been following the manufacturer's washing instructions carefully, you may be surprised to learn that you can wash your FR clothing in cold water. This is because the protective feature that FR clothing provides comes from a chemical reaction that occurs as soon as the fabric comes into contact with heat or flame. For this reason, it's important not to wash your FR clothing using high-heat settings or steam cleaners (or any other appliance or tool that produces heat) because these will reduce its effectiveness. 

It may feel like a quick fix, but bleach isn’t safe for FR clothing. The chemicals in bleach can damage the fabric and make it less effective as a flame-resistant garment. It's best to use a mild detergent and clean your FR clothing without damaging its coating.

It’s Not 100 Percent Resistant

Fire-resistant clothing (FR) doesn't offer 100 percent protection from fire. However, it can be an effective tool for reducing injuries and fatalities. The FR label indicates that a garment has undergone testing to protect against flash fires. With our helpful tips, we hope that you'll be able to avoid any mistakes when wearing FR clothing.

Brittany Williams