It is not very often that fires occur on-site but they can happen. In some jobs the risk of fire is so great that it is important to wear flame, or even fire retardant clothing.
But if both types of clothing are designed to protect the wearer from fire then surely they are pretty much the same thing?
Well, no they are actually very different materials.
If an item is classified as being ‘Flame Resistant’ then it has been produced from materials that are non-flammable. These materials have flame resistance chemically built in to their structure. Fabrics using this type of material are not usually made from completely flame proof material, they need to be wearable after all, but although they will eventually start to burn they will only do so very slowly and are liable to be self-extinguishing.
Any fabric that has been classified as ‘Flame Retardant’ will have been treated in a chemical process in order to make it slow burning and even self-extinguishing if exposed to open flame.
In terms of clothing, it is more likely that the wearer will have a product that is flame retardant as they are simpler to manufacture and far less expensive. They are usually far more comfortable to wear next to the skin than a fabric that is flame resistant.
Many garments of the flame retardant type are made form a combination of materials. More often than not they will be a combination of chemically treated polyester and cotton that allow the wearer to remain reasonably comfortable throughout the working day.
Sometimes it is wise to have a garment that is anti-static as well as flame retardant as the clothing itself helps to reduce the risk of unexpected fires. It may sound unlikely but if the air/accelerant mix is just right then a simple static charge has the potential to cause an explosion.
Better to be safe wearing the right clothing than running the risk of getting burnt.