Should I Wear FR Outerwear Over FR Clothing?

Yes! Last month, we published a blog post on what to wear under your flame resistant (FR) clothing, and today, we’re sharing what you should be wearing over your FR clothing. The answer: FR outerwear.

During the cooler months, it’s important to wear outerwear to protect yourself from the elements and avoid cold stress. But, when you’re required to wear FR clothing on the job, wearing FR outerwear on top of your FR clothing is critical to staying safe and protected from the hazards you face. In fact, any sort of outerwear – whether it’s for added comfort, warmth, or visibility, should be FR.

You might think you can throw on a non-FR jacket or non-FR hi-vis vest over your arc-rated, FR clothing and still be protected, but that’s a dangerous practice which could have catastrophic consequences. Just watch our video below of a live arc flash that we conducted at an independent laboratory in Chalfont, PA.

For this test we used a Dickies® Non FR Jacket with arc-rated clothing on underneath. The voltage was set to 480v, with an amperage of 17.3 kA and a cycle time of 12. At 12” away from the arc flash, this test had a total incident energy of 21.2 cal/cm2.

As you can see, even though there’s high quality arc-rated clothing on underneath, you will be burned through that clothing very rapidly when you have a sustained garment fire on top. Because there tends to be so much fuel in outerwear, the fire can go on for a prolonged period of time, which leads to additional hazards.

Alternately, here’s a look at how an arc-rated flame resistant jacket performed in an arc flash. For this test we used our Versa Insulated FR/AR Bomber Jacket (K64MT). Just like the other test, the voltage was set to 480v, with an amperage of 17.3 kA and a slightly higher cycle time of 14. At 12” away from the arc flash, this test had a total incident energy of 24.8 cal/cm2.

Very different results! After the smoke clears, you can clearly see that the Versa bomber jacket did not catch fire and did what it was expected to do in this fairly large arc – almost 25 calories! This CAT4 bomber jacket was designed to handle an arc as high as 40 cal.

These two tests illustrate the importance of wearing a quality arc-rated garment as your outermost layer.

Bottom line, please don’t make the mistake of wearing flammable non-FR garments on top of your arc-rated FR clothing.

 

To see how some of our other Versa products performed during the tests we conducted at an independent laboratory in Chalfont, click here. And, check back on our blog often for more videos and information that helps you stay safe on the job!

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