Often, you may hear something described as fireproof or fire-resistant, but do these terms mean different things? Below, we’ll break down the difference between fireproof and fire-resistant and examine the different rating systems for these terms.
Fireproof vs. Fire-Resistant
Essentially, “fireproof” and “fire-resistant” mean the same thing. Both terms refer to a material’s ability to withstand heat. However, neither guarantees the material is completely impervious to fire and heat—anything exposed to heat and fire long enough will eventually succumb to them.
Typically, the most significant difference between fireproof and fire-resistant is the context. The term fireproof often describes materials and objects that can withstand heat—a fireproof safe is a common example. Fire-resistant commonly describes clothes and garments—such as insulated FR bibs.
Fire-Resistant Garment Ratings, Explained
The fireproof and fire-resistant labels also come with varying levels of resistance to fire and flame. FR clothing uses an arc rating—otherwise known as the Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV). The ATPV rating indicates how much heat the garment can transfer through the fabric in the event of an arc flash and how protective it is.
The higher the arc rating on an FR garment, the more protective it is. FR garments will feature a label from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), citing that the garment meets certain workplace clothing protection standards. The label typically cites the NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Standard or the NFPA 2112 Standard on Flame-Resistant Clothing for the Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire.
UL Fireproof Fire Ratings, Explained
You’ll typically see a UL Fire Rating on fireproof materials, such as safes and other protective containers. The rating comes from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a non-profit organization that tests manufactured products to ensure they perform to fireproof standards.
A UL fire rating may look like “UL Class 350 1-Hour.” The UL means UL has tested the container and determined that, when exposed to an external temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, the internal contents will not exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one hour.
We hope our guide has expanded your understanding of the subtle distinctions between fireproof and fire-resistant. Often, the difference is negligible, and you can use them interchangeably. However, if you’re speaking of specific materials and items, such as clothes or containers, you’ll want to use the correct terms.
If you have any other questions about fire-resistant garments or want to purchase some fire-protective clothes, contact our helpful staff today!