Fabric Testing

Choosing the correct Flame Resistant Fabrics

Arming your crew with the appropriate FR (Flame Resistant) gear is a feat in itself. Navigating the ever-changing sea of standards? Now that’s another beast entirely. SKANWEAR® is here to help you choose the right FR program by ensuring you have a thorough grasp on the standards and what they mean for you—and your crew.

When the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) introduced the term “Arc-Rated” or “AR” in its 2012 revision to NFPA 70E, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. The question on every safety manager’s mind was: what’s the difference between AR (ARC RATED) and FR (FLAME RESISTANT)? According to SKANWEAR®’s Technical Manager, Angus Long, the most basic and important thing to know when it comes to AR and FR (FLAME RESISTANT) is that all arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame resistant clothing is arc-rated. 

For a piece of clothing to be considered flame resistant, the fabric used to make the garment must withstand ignition and/or rapidly self-extinguish in order to protect the wearer FR (Flame Resistant)om the dangers of flash fire, arc flash, molten metals and other hazards. In the event of a flash fire or arc flash, the FR (FLAME RESISTANT) PPE worn must resist catching fire, melting, and continuing to burn after the initial flash to act as a barrier between the wearer and the hazard.  

Fabric Testing 2

The fabric used to create arc-rated clothing is subject to additional tests, above and beyond fabric labeled simply “FR (FLAME RESISTANT).” Primarily, it is exposed to a series of arc flashes to determine how much energy the fabric is able to block before it would likely cause the wearer to obtain a 2nd degree burn, 50% of the time. The result of this test, expressed in calories, is known as the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV). 

Current standards for arc flash protection, detailed by NFPA 70E, state that all PPE clothing must also be flame resistant to qualify for an arc rating. In other words: all AR clothing is FR (FLAME RESISTANT), but not all FR (FLAME RESISTANT) clothing is AR. This is because, based on the results of the series of tests outlined above, equipment rated FR (FLAME RESISTANT) may not always provide the adequate level of protection for workers who are at risk of encountering arc flashes. These employees—general industry electricians (70E)— must wear the appropriate level of AR clothing for the hazard, in order to reduce their risk of serious injury or death caused by an arc flash.

Please also note that all STRATA® products produced by SKANWEAR® carry all applicable European standards for Arc & Flame (IEC 61482, EN ISO 11612, EN ISO 11611 &  EN 1149-5)

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