Petrochem Safety

Inherently Flame Retardant Fabric Vs. Treated FR Fabric

inherently flame retardant fabric

Flame-resistant fabrics are commonly categorised as inherently fire-retardant fabrics and treated fire-retardant fabrics. Workers who are in proximity to flames and extreme temperatures may find themselves in need of protective clothing made from these fabrics. Coveralls, jumpsuits, shirts, and other types of protective clothing are just a few examples of clothing made from such fabric. While these fabrics serve the same purpose, they differ in terms of properties and how they are produced. With that thought in mind, we decided to break down these differences to help you understand how they are used too.

Inherently Fire-Retardant Fabrics: Pros & Cons

As an overview, these inherently fire-retardant fabrics are composed of fibres that are naturally non-flammable. In other words, these fire-retardant properties cannot be eliminated or washed away due to being ‘inherently’ part of the polymer that makes up the fabric. There isn’t a change to the chemistry of such fabric that gives it non-flammable characteristics. What follows is an explanation of the pros and cons of the inherently flame-retardant fabric.

The Pros:

1. Protection Mechanism

The strongest factor that makes this type of fabric preferred is the high degree of protection it provides against thermal hazards. This entails higher levels of resistance towards oxygen content levels and greater insulation. As such, its Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) score, which provides a measurement of how well a piece of protective clothing works as a thermal insulator against exposure to radiant heat, is commendable.

2. Permanence of Protection

As previously stated, this inherently flame-retardant fabric is made up of fibres that are naturally non-flammable, which refers to the permanence of their ability to consistently remain flame-resistant. A constant level of protection is offered to clothing made from this fabric, which makes for a reliable product that will never be worn out or lose its essential properties.

The Cons:

1. More Expensive

Due to its inherent non-flammable properties, this fabric is often more expensive than treated fire retardant fabrics. However, the higher price may represent a great value for money because of its durability.


Treated Fire-Retardant Fabrics: Pros & Cons

This fabric differs from inherently fire retardant fabrics as it undergoes a process during manufacturing to engineer flame retardant properties. This chemically treated fabric is then considered flame-retardant once it goes through this chemical process. Some of the pros and cons of this fabric are:

The Pros:

1. More Comfort

This type of fabric offers wearers an experience akin to that of wearing cotton, as it is lightweight. Treated fire retardant fabrics, as such, provide more comfort to workers as a lighter alternative to heavier fabrics, which may be uncomfortable for long hours.

2. Cheaper Alternative

As this fabric is essentially designed to have flame resistant properties as opposed to being naturally flame resistant, it provides employers with a generally cheaper alternative to inherently fire retardant fabrics.

The Cons:

1. Shorter Lifespan

These fabrics, while being cheaper than other fabrics, are easily damaged during washing or even exposed to hazardous chemicals. After a while, it will eventually provide less protection, which may be risky for wearers who are unable to discern whether its flame retardant properties are effective by its visual appearance.


In wrapping up, both inherently flame retardant fabrics and treated fire retardant fabrics offer protection to the wearer, despite having varying levels of longevity. Thus, in making a decision between these fabrics, factors including comfort, budgeting, and lifespan must be taken into consideration.

By carefully researching these differences, a clearer understanding of such fabrics can be obtained, and hence, more careful choices can be made in providing protective clothing to a workforce operating in environments where flammable hazards are common.