Cotton Fire Protection Facts

Posted by Douglas Gray on 27th Jul 2015

Cotton Sweat Shirt

The Cotton fire protection clothing facts contain what you need to know to protect yourself and follow OSHA and NFPA rules for employees and protective clothing. The very first one is that cotton is not fire retardant unless it is treated to be such. 

For a material to be considered fire resistant it must extinguish the flame itself once the ignition source is left. This is simply if a person is engulfed in flames wearing fire retardant clothing, they will not have to roll around to put the fire out. Once they leave the vicinity in which flames are present, the clothing will no longer be on fire. 

There is 100% fire retardant clothing in many different forms. They can be underwear, shirts, pants and overalls. All of these types are a single layer of material. The shirts, pants and overalls can also be 2, 3 or 4 layers of cotton material for added protection.

The term Life of the Garment is on many labels of fire retardant clothing including those made of cotton. Even with this present, the fire retardant chemicals that are applied to the material will wash out over time. So a person and group would know if a washed item is still safe to wear there are special procedures to wash this type of clothing. The upper limit of times fire retardant clothing items can be washed is 125 times in an industrial setting. If the proper procedure is not followed, the number of washings and the protection this clothing provides is shortened. 

The treatment of cotton material so it is flame retardant is accomplished two ways. The ammonia cure is the application of phosphonium salts precondensed polymerized with the use of an ammonium gas. The second is a heat cured with diakylphosphonamide. Once the flame retardant is bonded to the fibers of the cotton material, the clothing item is considered flame retardant. This will wash out over time but the material will remain the same in appearance and texture whether or not the flame retardant is present or not. 

100% cotton and cotton blends used in flame retardant clothing has to be washed on a regular basis. Dirt, soil and debris on the item is not treated to be flame retardant and can reduce the effectiveness and protection of the clothing item if exposed to a flame. In this washing process the use of bleach is strictly forbidden. Bleach destroys the flame retardant bond to the fibers. Hydrogen peroxide must also not be used because it will also destroy the bond. 

Many organization and companies desire to place embroidery on the garments of their employees. This material that is added to the flame retardant material is not flame retardant. While there are no regulations prohibiting their usage, they can burn and place the wearer of the garments in danger of exposure to flames.

It is important to stay safe on the job. These are just a few cotton fire protection facts you should know if you or your employees are required to wear fire retardant protective clothing.