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General Information and FR terms:

If exposed to electric arc flashes or flash fires, clothing made from most untreated (e.g.,non-FR) fibers will continue to burn once ignited. In contrast, FR clothing is specially designed to self-extinguish within two seconds after the source of ignition is removed - thereby limiting the worker's degree of burns, and body burn percentage. FR fabrics are not flame proof; however, they are specially designed to be flame-resistant.

Treated fabrics are cotton or cotton-blend fabrics that are treated with chemicals that form a permanent bond with the fabric that cannot be washed out when the recommended laundering instructions are followed. The chemical treatment changes the molecular structure of the fabric.

Inherent fabrics are made with fibers that are designed to be flame resistant. Flame resistance is part of the fibers' DNA and is a permanent characteristic of the fabric. Modacrylic blends are commonly used inherent fabrics.

No. Flame-resistant clothing is guaranteed to be flame-resistant for the useful life of the garment; regardless of the number of washings (servicing) in either the home or industrial laundering, provided the garment care instructions are followed.

Non-treated cotton and wool are flammable fibers. If exposed to electric arcs and flash fires, these materials will continue to burn causing possible severe injury and death.

A value of the energy necessary to pass through any given fabric to cause with 50% probability a second or third degree burn. This value is measured in calories/cm². The necessary Arc Rating for an article of clothing is determined by a Hazard/Risk Assessment and the resulting HRC. Usually measured in terms of ATPV or EBT. Simple put the ARC rating determines the protective characteristics of the fabric. The higher the ARC rating value the greater the protection. When the product is sold to protect workers from arcing faults, clothing manufacturer are required in indicate the ARC rating.

Like ATPV, Energy of Breakopen Threshold (EBT) is a rating assigned to FRC indicating the level of protection provided. EBT is used when ATPV cannot be measured due to flame-resistant fabric breakopen. EBT is also measured in calories per centimeter squared (cal/cm2).

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) developed F1506, the Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant Textile Material for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electric Arc and Related Thermal Hazards. This is a pass/fail standard that requires a sample of flame-resistant fabric to self extinguish with a <2 second afterflame and a <6" char length. The FR fabric must also stand up to these requirements after 25 washes/dry cleaning. All flame-resistant garments meet the ASTM F1506 requirement.

The PPE Category protection level worn by an FR user should be determined by the user's employer. The employer must do a risk assessment for the user's job and inform them of the protection level needed. This should never be determined by the apparel manufacturer or the retailer.

Yes. FR Clothing can be repaired, but repairs must be made with fabrics and sewing threads that have at minimum the same flame-resistant properties as the original garment.

Whether it is appropriate to attach non-FR embroidery and emblems to flame resistant garments is always a difficult question to address. The only comment of the consensus standards writing organizations, such as NFPA and ASTM, is that nothing on an article may increase the extent of wearer injury in case of garment ignition. ASTM is Standard F-1506, Standard Performance Specification for FR Textile Materials for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electric Arc and Related Thermal Hazards sates in an appendix item that, "Logos, name tags, and other heraldry should be limited in number and surface area".

No OSHA or military standards address this area. SFI, the race driver’s association, has not addressed this issue. However, identification and personalization are clearly safety issues in themselves that must be addressed by end users.

In the final analysis, the end user of the garment must weigh the benefits of identification and personalization against the potential risk from using non-flame resistant materials. Common sense in the size, placement, and number of these materials is the best solution per Bulwark.

Per Carhartt, None of the current regulations governing the use of FR clothing specifically require the use of FR thread for embroidery applications. However, Carhartt recommends the use of flame-resistant thread for embroidery or emblem attachments.

None of the current regulations governing the use of FR clothing specifically require the use of FR thread for embroidery applications. However, recommends the use of flame-resistant thread for embroidery or emblem attachments.

Commonly Used Terms

  • Flame Resistant (FR) - A fabric or product that resists ignition and self-extinguishes after removal of the ignition source.
  • Vertical Flame Test - A basic test that determines whether or not a fabric is FR by measuring how much of the fabric is consumed after 12 seconds of flame exposure.
  • Arc Rating - The value for fabrics that describes their performance under exposure to an electrical arc discharge. Testing determines when the amount of exposure results in a 50% probability of causing the onset of second-degree skin burn. The arc rating is expressed in cal/cm2. It can be either an ATPV or an EBT.
  • ATPV - The Arc Thermal Performance Value of a fabric shown in cal/cm2.
  • EBT - The Energy of Breakopen Threshold. The cal/cm² at which the fabric breaks open before it reaches its ATPV.

Protective Clothing Chart

Hazard Risk Category
or PPE Category
Clothing Description Required Minimum
Arc Rating of PPE
Cal/cm2
Arc-rated FR Long-sleeve shirt and FR pants or FR coverall. 4
Arc-rated FR Long-sleeve shirt and FR pants or FR coverall. 8
Arc-rated FR Long-sleeve shirt and FR pants or FR coverall, and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum. 25
Arc-rated FR Long-sleeve shirt and FR pants or FR coverall, and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum. 40

Safety Standards

The PPE Category protection level worn by an FR user should be determined by the user's employer. The employer must do a risk assessment for the user's job and inform them of the protection level needed. This should never be determined by the apparel manufacturer or the retailer.

NFPA 70E was developed to protect electrical workers in all industries who work on or near energized parts or equipment that are capable of generating an arc flash. Such equipment would include high-voltage switching and grounding gear, panel boards, switchboards, motor control centers, motor starters, metal clad switchgear, transformers, and meters. Common occupations covered under NFPA 70E include electrical maintenance workers, industrial electricians, and machine operators.

Flame resistant clothing is addressed in Chapter 1 of the standard, Safety-Related Work Practices. NFPA 70E requires employers to conduct an arc flash hazard analysis to identify a worker's potential exposure to arc-flash energy. The results of the analysis are then used to determining safe work practices, arc flash protection boundaries, and the appropriate level of personal protective equipment. The standard states that all equipment must be de-energized before being worked on unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. If de-energizing the equipment is not feasible, the employer must establish a "flash protection boundary" which is the minimum distance from an arc source where a person could receive a second-degree burn if an arc flash occurred. When it is determined that an employee must perform electrical work within the flash protection boundary, he or she shall wear protective clothing and all parts of the body within the arc flash protection boundary must be protected. NFPA 70E requires the use of one of two methods for determining the appropriate level of flame-resistant clothing: 1. Incident Energy Analysis - The employer must determine the potential incident energy exposure of the worker in cal/cm ². Based on this analysis, the worker must wear arc-rated flame-resistant clothing with an Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV - measured in cal/cm ²), or EBT greater than the potential exposure level. 2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Categories (CAT) - To simplify the process, NFPA 70E has developed a table of common electrical job tasks and determined a PPE category for each task. The table above, adapted from NFPA 70E-2015 (Table 130.7(C)(16)), lists the four PPE categories, corresponding required minimum arc rating of flame-resistant clothing and the PPE category color codes.

Look for PPE category color codes when viewing our online products. An ATPV/EBT is a rating assigned to flame-resistant clothing indicating the level of protection provided. Higher-weight (e.g., thicker, denser) fabrics typically have higher Arc Flash Rating and provide increased protection (as does the layering of FR clothing). All flame-resistant clothing has the ATPV/EBT marked on the inside label for easy reference. The ATPV is expressed in calories per cm2 (CAL/CM²) and represents the thermal exposure from an electric arc that at 50% probability will create a second-degree burn in human tissue. If the ATPV cannot be calculated because the fabric breaks open, the energy causing the fabric to break open is expressed as the Energy of Breakopen Threshold (EBT). The higher the value the greater the protection.

For general industry, NFPA 70E:

  • Mandates that employers conduct a risk assessment to determine the potential arc exposure for employees who work on or near energized parts or equipment. The level of arc exposure is referred to as the ATPV/EBT and is measured in calories/cm2 (often called a cal rating).
  • Requires employees to wear flame-resistant clothing with a PPE category rating, equal to or greater than the determined arc hazard.
  • Simplifies the risk assessment and compliance process by creating PPE categories for common tasks an electrical worker would perform. Therefore, an FR clothing item's PPE (CAT) rating determines if that item provides sufficient protection for a particular job. As a result, FR clothing carries PPE CAT tags. And, unlike some others, PPE CAT tags are externally visible, allowing supervisors and safety officers to easily confirm workers are in compliance with NFPA 70E regulation.
For more information or to purchase a copy of the NFPA 70E standard visit the NFPA web site.


NFPA 2112, the standard for flame-resistant garments for protection of industrial personnel against flash fire, is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The National Fire Protection Association has served as an authority in the U.S. on fire, electricity and building safety since 1896. The purpose of the standard is to "provide minimum requirements for the design, construction, evaluation, and certification of flame-resistant garments for use by industrial personnel, with the intent of providing a degree of protection to the wearer and reducing the severity of burn injuries resulting from accidental exposure to hydrocarbon flash fires" NFPA 2112 is a voluntary consensus standard, not a law. However, OSHA recognizes NFPA 2112 as a generally accepted industry practice.

NFPA 2112 was developed to protect industrial workers and primarily those in the oil and petrochemical industries against flash fires. A flash fire is defined as "a fire that spreads rapidly through a diffuse fuel, such as dust, gas, or the vapors of an ignitable liquid, without the production of damaging pressure". Flash fires are unplanned exposures that typically last three seconds or less. NFPA 2112 does not apply to protective clothing for electrical flashes, wildland fire fighting, technical rescue, structural fire fighting, proximity fire fighting, or any fire fighting operations or hazardous materials emergencies.

Organizations must conduct a hazard assessment of the work environment to determine if flammable chemicals are present in quantities necessary to generate a flash fire. If a flash-fire hazard does exist, the requirements for wearing flame-resistant clothing shall be based on the potential hazards that workers are exposed to as part of their work duties. Factors in determining if flame-resistant clothing is required shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • The potential for the task being performed to increase the possibility of a flammable release; this could result from a mechanical failure such as a line breaking.
  • The presence of engineering controls designed to reduce exposure to flammable materials present during Operating conditions of the process - that is, potential for flammable fumes or vapors, and so forth.
  • The presence of engineering controls designed to reduce exposure to flammable materials present during normal operations.
  • Accident history. If it is determined that flame-resistant clothing is required, the garments shall comply with the requirements of NFPA 2112 and be labeled accordingly.
In order for garments to be meet NFPA 2112 standards all components of the garment must be tested and certified by a 3rd party. The most common certification is completed by UL. A garment will include a label showing that it is UL Classified. Customers can also check garment certification on the UL website.

For the oil and petrochemical industries, NFPA 2112:

  • Mandates that employers conduct a flash-fire hazard assessment to determine the risk of a flash fire.
  • Requires employees to wear flame-resistant clothing if the potential for a flash fire exists.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.269 covers the operation and maintenance of electric power generation, control, transformation, transmission and distribution lines and equipment. Part (l) (6) (iii) states: "The employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arc does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of the injury that would be sustained by the employee". This is the only federal law relating to FR clothing for electrical purposes. It is currently being rewritten and is expected to closely mirror the NFPA70E and NESC standards.
FR garments that meet NFPA 2112 standards for the oil & gas industry have been classified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).


Published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) sets the ground rules for practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication lines and associated equipment. The NESC contains the basic provisions that are considered necessary for the safety of employees and the public under the specified conditions. Although not a federal law (some states do make the NESC law), NESC is a voluntary consensus standard, and is the standard OSHA refers to when abating electrical safety in the utility industry. Although the NESC has been in existence since 1973, the 2007 revision marked the first time that flame-resistant, arc-rated clothing was included as a safety requirement and the 2012 version expanded arc-rated clothing down to lower voltages with complete tables specifying apparel requirements from 4 cal/cm2 through 60 cal/cm2.

NESC is specific to the electrical utility industry and "covers the electric supply conductors and equipment . . .(including) electric supply stations, that are accessible only to qualified personnel." NESC basically applies to all electric utility work performed at investor-owned utilities, electric co-ops and municipalities.

NESC is specific to the electrical utility industry and "covers the electric supply conductors and equipment . . .(including) electric supply stations, that are accessible only to qualified personnel." NESC basically applies to all electric utility work performed at investor-owned utilities, electric co-ops and municipalities.

The NESC Rule 410A3 governing the use of flame-resistant, arc-rated clothing for electrical utilities, requires the following:

  • Effective January 1, 2009, the employer shall ensure that an assessment is performed to determine potential exposure to an electric arc for employees who work on or near energized parts or equipment. The 2012 rule added low voltage equipment to the >1000V equipment requirement in 2007.
  • If the assessment determines a potential employee exposure greater than 2 cal/cm² exists, the employer shall require the employee to wear clothing or a clothing system that has an effective arc rating at least equal to the anticipated level of arc energy.
  • When exposed to an electric arc or flame, clothing made from the following materials shall not be worn: Acetate, nylon, polyester, or polypropylene unless arc rated in a blend.
  • The effective arc rating of clothing or a clothing system to be worn shall be determined using Tables 410-1, 410-2, and 410-3 or performing an arc hazard analysis.
  • When an arc hazard analysis is performed, it shall include a calculation of the estimated arc energy based on the available fault current, the duration of the arc (cycles), and the worker distance from the potential hazard.
EXCEPTION : If the clothing required by this rule has the potential to create additional and greater hazards than the possible exposure to the heat energy of the electric arc, then clothing with an arc rating or ATPV less than that required by the rule can be worn. This is normally allowed for uncommon work methods such as helicopter work on live power lines.