A fire retardant fabric made with modacrylic cotton, provides a comfort far superior to aramid, and better durability and breathability compared to treated cottons.
In the oil sector, in the extraction stations, both offshore and on land, oil refining plants or in the same hydrocarbon distribution, operators need to be equipped with fire protection uniforms, as the main risk.
Currently there are two worldwide recognized regulations that apply to regulate the use of these fire retardant fabrics, in these environments with risk: the American NFPA 2112 or the international ISO EN 11612.
On the market there are several types of fabrics, intended for the manufacture of garments, which meet these regulations, but can basically be grouped into 3 classes:
- Fabrics with Aramid base
- Modacrylic-cotton fabrics
- Chemically treated cotton fabrics
They are widely known in the technical textil sector which are the technical advantages and defects of each group, which would be the following:
- Aramides – good protection, good durability, poor comfort and high cost
- Modeling – good protection, good durability, excellent comfort and balanced cost
- Treated cotton – Protection limited, low durability, regular comfort and very competitive cost.
Specifically in the work environment of the oil / hydrocarbons sector, apart from the main fire protection, other qualities of the garments that often pass must also be assessed much more unnoticed:
- The possibility of incorporating antistatic fibers in the fabric, so that the garments are not charged with static electricity with the operator’s movements and this can trigger a deflagration, in an environment with high ignition ease. This property is checked based on the EN ISO 1149 standard.
- The possibility that the garments are, in their entirety or a good part of them, high visibility colors (EN ISO 20471), either yellow or orange, to help visualize an official in case of emergency, or in a situation with poor visibility.
- The water-repellent characteristic (EN ISO 13034) of the fabric, in order to give the garment greater durability and resistance to stains and dirt penetration. In these environments, operators often come into contact with liquids that easily penetrate the tissues, leaving them stained and in danger of ignition.
- The values of breathability or breathability of a fire retardant fabric, based on the tests to determine the RET values and RCT (UNE EN 31092) or the AIR PERMEABILITY value of a fabric, are very interesting elements to analyze, to determine a good FR fabric, to be used by the operators of an OFFSHORE platform or in a highly hot environment.
These parameters are the ones that clearly determine the comfort of the users. The fabrics with modacrylic base, without a doubt are the ones that present the best results in the official textile laboratories, in the analysis of the 4 points mentioned above. It is important to remember that modacrylic fabrics also have good results of protection against fire tests and that their FR properties do not deteriorate or disappear either with use or with consecutive washes.
In most cases, cottons Treaties do not even have the option of including these characteristics in their specifications, and because of this, and because their main anti-flame feature is lost with washing, they are a kind of fabrics that are used in decline in the main world companies in the OIL sector & GAS.