Safety Standards

Flame Resistant Garments

Flame Resistant Garments

Definition: The property of a material whereby flaming combustion is prevented, terminated or inhibited following the application of a flaming or non-flaming source of ignition, with subsequent removal of the ignition source.

Material: There are two types of materials used in the construction of Flame Resistant (FR) fabrics, Inherently Flame Resistant fibers, such as Nomex, Kermel, Basofil etc. and fibers that have been chemically treated, such as Indura Ultra Soft, Banox, Mount Vernon etc. using cotton or other fibers as the base fiber.

Today many of the materials can be blends of different fibers to enhance various end use properties.

USES: Flame resistant clothing is used by workers to protect them against the hazards of the thermal effects of electric arcing or Flash Fire from combustible gas, dust or other ignition source.

Selection of Garment: Selection of the garment characteristics for a particular workplace identified hazard must be defined by trained experts.

The protection levels required may be achieved by combinations of fabrics selected, weight of fabric and layering. Tests are usually conducted by the manufacturer of the materials used and must adhere to the various Standard Tests for Electric Arcing and Flash Fires.


Electrical Arcing

  • Arc Rating The performance value of a fabric, exposed to an electric arc discharge. The tests determines the 50% probability of causing second degree skin burn.  The test value is expressed in Cal/cm2 and can be stated as either APTV or EBT value.
  • ATPV This is the Arc Thermal Performance value expressed in cal/cm2
  • EBT This is Energy of Breakopen Threshold. Where the fabric breaks open before an ATPV value can be determined. Value is measured in cal/cm2.
  • HRC Hazard Risk Category.  These are categories stated in NFPA 70E, which group fabric or fabric combination protection values. There are 5 categories with the highest category number signifying the highest protection. The category number is the minimum value of protective clothing to be worn, while performing particular tasks that pose potential hazards

Flash Flame

  • Manikin Test for Body Burn. This is a simulated flash fire test on a manikin equipped with sensors to determine the estimated percentage of second and third degree body burns following a three second exposure. The test requires the percentage to be less than 50%. This test is a key component in the NFPA 2112
  • TPP The Thermal Protection of a measures the amount of heat it takes to pass through a fabric to cause a second degree body burn. CSGB 155.20 requires a minimum of 6 cals/cm2, testing with a spacer.
  • HTP Heat Transfer Performance measures the amount of heat it takes to pass through a fabric to cause second degree burns, based on the skin burn curve.  NFPA requires a value of 6 cal/cm2, tested with a spacer or and 3 cal/cm2 in direct contact.


  • NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety
  • CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety (Canadian NFPA 70E)
  • ASTM D6413 Vertical flame test to determine if fabric is FR by exposing fabric to a flame for 12 seconds and measuring length of fabric consumed, after flame and after glow. Also melt or drip.
  • ASTM F1506 Electric Arc discharge Test
  • NFPA 2112 Specifies minimum standards and tests for Flash Flame fabrics.
  • ASTM F1930 Standard process for measuring average predicted body burn of a fabric in a simulated flash fire.



The current CSA Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel was published in late 2015 and is referred to as CSA Z96-15.

It incorporates information on the selection, use and care of High Visibility Safety material.

The CSA Standard harmonizes with the US Standard ANSI 107 and the International Standard ISO 20471.

The purpose of these garments is to increase conspicuity of the wearer in day time, low light, and night-time conditions.

Three classes of garments have been defined providing increased work environment protection.

A work-place hazard assessment is recommended to assist in defining the level of protection required.

Both the background fabric and reflective material must be compliant with the Standard and have been tested by a third party laboratory.  Ask your garment manufacturer for a copy of the compliant test result.

It is estimated that upwards of 50% of all High Visibility garments sold in Europe, US and Canada, do not comply with these reflective standards.  Ask for the proof of compliance.

In Canada, we allow both materials that are Abright colored@ or fluorescent dyes.

Fluorescent materials provide the greatest day-time and low light visibility.

Some Flame Resistant fabrics do not accept the fluorescent dyes and are therefore in the Abright@ range.

Acceptable background material Colors: Orange, Lime Yellow and Red (Fluorescent only).

Acceptable Reflective Colors: Silver, Yellow and other combination of colors that meet the specified reflective requirements.


There are three high visibility classes of garment, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.

Class 3 provides the greatest protection, and Class 1 provides the least.


Reflective stripes are specified in the Standard and the reflectivity is defined as Level 1 or Level 2.   We recommend Level 2 for all workers under dark or night-time conditions.  A minimum of 50mm (2″) width is required.

In Canada, the arrangement of reflective bands is shown below and comprises of 2 parallel stripes in the front, with a 360 degree horizontal band at the waist.  The back has an AX@ from each shoulder.  Depending on the class, horizontal stripes can be applied to arms and legs.


There are two situations:

1)        Non-reflective – Total area 105 cm sq. placed in the front and back (Do not cover reflective bands).

2)        Retro-reflective logos in total area can be no greater than 500 cm sq. and may be placed anywhere but cannot obscure the recognizable pattern of stripes.


To distinguish the personnel at an accident scene, the following colors have been adopted:

  1. a) Green for Emergency Medical Services, (EMS), Ambulance, Paramedics
  2. b) Red for Fire Services
  3. c) Blue for Police Services


If the design incorporates a tear-away capability, the garment must be designed so that no section can encircle any part of the body.  That means that any band around the vest must have a tear-away capability.  Hook and Loop is the best material for the tear-away attachments.  The Hook and Loop should be sheer-graded so that the sheer strength is compatible with the wearer.

The key to any Personal Protection Equipment is comfort. Garments must fit, be comfortable to work in and provide the visibility for the work and traffic conditions of the work environment.

Examples of Class 1, 2 and 3: