At first glance, it may seem as if fire-resistant and fire-retardant materials are interchangeable; however, the differences between these two qualities can feel vastly different when you’re in an actual fire.
Fire resistant cloth that protects you from getting burned by flames is known as fire resistant. These consist of materials that are naturally resistant to fire and may also be chemically treated to withstand high temperatures. Fire-resistant clothing is like a castle wall because they can withstand external forces (such as fires) from getting in.
On the other hand, fr clothing designed to slow down or prevent a fire from spreading is fire retardant. Clothing labeled as such uses synthetic materials specifically engineered to suppress flames. If resistant material is like a castle wall, then retardant material is more akin to a suit of armor. The differences between fr rated clothing don’t end there. Continue reading to learn about the specific materials that fall into these two categories so you can be more equipped to select the frc clothing that suits your needs.
Aramid fibers are made from a polymer called poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, a type of synthetic material known for its high strength and heat resistance. This material is commonly found in aerospace, military, and industrial fr clothing.
These are some of the properties of aramid fibers:
- high melting point
- high tensile strength
When it comes to fr workwear, aramid fibers are perfect for high-performance protective garments that must be resistant to heat, flame, and cuts, such as firefighting uniforms.
Coated Nylon and Polyester
Most people are familiar with nylon and polyester since they are two of the most commonly used synthetic textiles. In fact, nylon and polyester are so common that it is difficult to find a product that isn't reliant on one of these two materials.
While similar, each of these materials also has distinct properties. Nylon is known for its elasticity and abrasion resistance, while polyester stands out for its wrinkle resistance and ability to hold bright colors.
Both nylon and polyester can be chemically treated to give them flame-resistant properties as well, often in the form of a coating.
Developed in the 1960s for fr uniforms worn by military pilots, Nomex was designed to be lightweight yet strong enough to withstand the heat and flame of a jet engine fire. Upon its successful development, this novel material astounded chemical engineers.
Now, Nomex is a well-known aramid material owned by DuPont, a company specializing in the production of synthetic fibers and polymers. As with other aramids, Nomex is known for its high strength and heat resistance. One of the key ways that the Nomex brand distinguishes itself is through its commitment to innovation, quality, and performance.
Polybenzimidazole is a synthetic fiber and most people call it PBI for short. As with other materials in its class, PBI is strong, durable, and heat resistant. So what makes PBI stand out from the crowd? The answer is its melting point.
PBI fibers have a melting point of around 500°C, much higher than the melting point of other synthetic fibers, such as nylon, polyester, and even aramid. This high melting point makes PBI fibers an ideal choice for fr work clothes that must withstand extreme temperatures.
Today, PBI is often used in protective gear such as helmet liners and gloves for military personnel's protective gear. PBI fibers are also resistant to chemicals and UV radiation, making them very durable and long-lasting. This material is often combined with cotton or spandex to make fr gear that is both comfortable and functional.
Not to be confused with acrylic, modacrylic is another flame-resistant synthetic fiber. It is made from various chemical monomers, including acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride. Modacrylic fibers are found in clothing, bedding, upholstery, and other textiles.
Modacrylic has a well-known property that resists heat and flames. In terms of synthetic materials, modacrylic sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to its melting point, at a respectable 180°C. While still a good choice for protective clothing, modacrylic fibers may be more or less suitable for particular applications and performance requirements.
Fire resistant uniforms are a crucial investment for anyone working in a potentially hazardous environment. Not only does fr clothing give you an extra layer of protection in the event of a fire, but it can also provide peace of mind knowing that you have taken the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.
Master Brands is among the top fire safety clothing suppliers in the U.S. Make the switch and start ordering your custom fr clothing from us today!