What Does Flame-Resistant Clothing (FRC) Mean?
Flame-resistant clothing (FRC) refers to clothing that is designed to withstand heat or exposure to flame without combusting or breaking open for the purpose of protecting the wearer from burns.
All flame-resistant clothing must not melt when exposed to heat. Flame-resistant clothing must be able to withstand certain types of exposure to direct flames in order to be certified as standards-compliant personal protective equipment (PPE) suitable for protecting employees who may be exposed to fire hazards.
Safeopedia Explains Flame-Resistant Clothing (FRC)
The general duty obligation of various occupational health and safety organizations (such as OSHA’s General Duty Clause) provides employers with a legal obligation to ensure that employees wear flame-resistant clothing in situations where there is a risk of exposure to fire or intense thermal energy (heat). Within the United States, criteria for fire-resistant clothing are laid out through multiple consensus standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In this context, clothing recognized as fire-resistant is referred to as “fire-rated” or “FR” clothing.
The chief U.S. consensus standards that describe the requirements for a garment to be recognized as flame-resistant are NFPA 70e and NFPA 2112, along with NFPA 2113, which describes maintenance standards for flame-resistant clothing.
NFPA 70e provides the requirements necessary for a garment to be recognized as arc-rated; however, one of these requirements is flame-resistance. All arc-rated clothing is fire-rated (FR), but not all fire-rated clothing is arc-rated. NFPA 2112 provides specific requirements for flame-resistance in the specific context of industrial flash fires, which include clothing being able to resist ignition when exposed to a direct flame at very intense heat for a brief amount of time. For a garment to qualify as NFPA 2112 fire-resistant, it must prevent more than 50% of its wearer’s covered body from receiving second- or third-degree burns after a three-second exposure to a flash fire. The specific tests that the NFPA relies upon to determine whether a garment is fire-resistant are described by ASTM International, an international standards associate that publishes consensus technical standards.
OSHA’s fire safety obligations require employers to provide employees with FR-clothing free of charge in any environment in which employees might be exposed to arc-flash hazards (NFPA 70e), combustible dust explosions (NFPA 652), or any other environment that contains potential fire hazards (OSHA 1910.132), such as petrochemical plants. OSHA generally recognizes compliance with relevant NFPA standards as an acceptable way for employers to meet their fire safety obligations.