While fire-resistant clothing has many benefits for its users, there is one massive downside that many seem to forget about: how long they will remain effective. If an article of clothing is no longer doing its job of protecting against flames, then you need to replace it. This isn’t only necessary for the user but the company they work for as well since they can get fined for having employees with old, worn-out FR clothing.
So, if you’ve used your current set for a while and are wondering how long fire-resistant clothing lasts, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will go over how long they typically last, what damage you should look for, and what you can do to fix them.
How They Can Lose Their Effectiveness
There are many ways that fire-resistant clothes can lose their effectiveness: the most obvious is if they get burned. A common misconception about FR clothing is that they are fireproof. However, this isn’t true. FR clothing slows and eventually stops any flames that take hold of the fabric. Unfortunately, that means after they’ve done their job, they’re no longer of much use.
Many flame-resistant clothes still get severely burned and torn up from a fire, even though the user was unharmed. If the same area should catch fire again, the results are direr for the person wearing it.
Other elements than fire can damage FR clothing, though. Tears and rips can make the garments as ineffective as if they got burned. The user’s skin is now exposed, which means if they come into contact with a flame, they will get scorched through that cut.
Damage can occur in less noticeable ways too. For example, if they have gotten soiled by various solvents, oils, or other gas-related products, you will need to clean them thoroughly since those elements can easily catch fire. However, sometimes they’re so doused in the flammable liquid that you can never fully clean them. That means the clothes won’t put the fire out as easily the next time they catch on fire.
The final way is wear and tear. No piece of clothing can last forever, so they will eventually reach an “expiration date.” That’s why it’s important to remain aware of that as you use them.
How Long FR Clothing Lasts
“So, how long does fire-resistant clothing last for?” we hear you asking. Well, there’s not a straightforward answer to that. Even though we referred to them as having an “expiration date,” there is no exact day they suddenly go bad. It depends on how often you use them, the frequency of when you wash them, and how rough you are with them. On top of that, the material they’re made out of matters as well.
Despite all that, there are some ranges by which you can no longer use them. One hundred percent cotton FR clothing has the shortest usage life, which is just over a year. However, cotton and Nylon blended clothing can significantly increase how long you can use them. An 88 percent to 12 percent blend can last anywhere from a year and a half to two and a half years. Finally, the last major kind, synthetic blends, has the longest usage life of about two and a half to four years. While they tend to cost a bit more, the longevity of synthetic blends makes up for that.
What You Can Do to Remedy the Situation
The best way to handle the situation of a piece of FR clothing that has gone bad is to replace it entirely. The best part is you don’t have to throw it out if the article of clothing is still good. You can use it for your next family cookout; however, you can’t take it to work anymore. Also, if you have plenty of other sets of FR clothing, you don’t need to buy a replacement right away.
However, we know that buying a new one is expensive. Purchasing a new one isn’t always in the budget. Fortunately, you can fix fire-resistant clothing with some patchwork, but this is not a permanent fix. If the burned area or tear is small enough, you can buy some FR fabric to patch over it. These are great for prolonging the need for a new pair until you can afford it.
Which Mistakes To Avoid
You should know that you need to do patchwork in a specific way for it to work properly. The most obvious thing is you can’t use any old piece of material that you find lying around. It needs to have a fire-resistance rating. On top of that, it needs a comparable rating to the rest of the clothing. Also, while you’re out buying some FR fabric for the patchwork, make sure you buy some fire-resistant thread as well since that can just as easily catch on fire.
After doing all that, as long as you’ve covered up all the holes and wear the patched-up clothing properly, it should hold up long enough for you to find a decent replacement.
How To Find a More Durable Replacement
When buying a new piece of fire-resistant clothing, it’s a good idea to spring for one that is more durable than your current one. Some stronger sets can even withstand a blaze well enough to use afterward. If you want our recommendation, we’d suggest looking into a pair of fire-resistant coveralls. The ones we have in stock are made of some of the best materials out there and can keep you protected from head to toe. Plus, you can put them over your current FR clothing for double protection.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Look into the fire-resistant clothing that you’re going to buy next. Check to see which materials the manufacturer used to make them and find out what other people say about their longevity in the reviews. As long as you take the time to research a product before you buy it, you won’t have any surprises once you start using it.