Fire Resistant Fabrics: Different Types And Uses

Many of the items of clothing we purchase have to meet certain fire resistant standards by OSHA. But for certain people in certain professions, a higher level of fire resistant clothing and fabrics is not only important, it is essential to keep them safe in their regular job duties. Among some of the most recognized brands and types of fire resistant fabrics are nomex flight suits, kevlar, nomex, indura, pbi, proban, and a few other notable names. These materials are specially made and specially designed to keep clothing from melting and causing more damage to a person than heat and fire would alone.


This line of fire resistant fabrics has been in use since the 1960s. DuPont developed and trademarked this type of fabric after recognizing a need among race car drivers. After bearing witness to far too many fiery crashes resulting in fatalities, Nomex was developed as a fabric which is much like nylon. It is breathable, yet durable, and comfortable to wear. Firefighters often wear Nomex hoods, which is worn to cover areas of the head, face, and neck that are not otherwise covered by the helmet and the mask. These hoods protect these areas from the intense heat, as well as flames when fighting fires.


Among some of the more common types of fire resistant fabrics is Kevlar. It is related to Nomex, and was also developed by DuPont. It is lighter and thinner than traditional Nomex fabrics, which makes it a popluar choice for heat protection. While most of us think of bullet-proof vests when we think of Kevlar. It has a variety of uses, and its ability to retain its tensile strength in both extreme cold and extreme heat make it a suitable choice for people who are looking for clothing that allows them freedom of movement without a lot of additional padding and additional weight.

Nomex Flight Suits

Made of approximately 90% Nomex, Nomex flight suits are US Military Grade suits used by pilots and astronauts. These suits are lightweight and durable, and provide a good amount of protection against cockpit fires and other mishaps while allowing the wearer to maintain easy and free movement. These flight suits are an essential part of the gear worn by military pilots and astronauts.


Indura cotton is among one of the best selling brands of flame resistant clothing. Indura is 100% cotton, and provides washable durability for professionals who rely on some degree of fire resistant clothing. Indura’s cotton clothing is treated with flame resistant polymers, which provides the heat and fire protection many professionals need. From shirts, to pants to socks, Indura offers a full line of affordable clothing to welders, electricians, race car drivers, and pilots.


PBI is another organic fiber which offers superior fire resistance. Because of its moisture content, it is an excellent choice for firefighters and those who are subject to direct exposure to flames. Its gold-colored fibers blend well with other fibers to create a premium product which is effective, durable, and lightweight. It is also a bit higher on the price spectrum than other comparable products.


Proban is a bit different than the other fire resistant and fire retardant clothing. Proban is not an actual fiber, like many of the other materials previously discussed. Rather, it is a treatment which is applied to fabrics after they have been been woven. Many of the clothing items we know and are familiar with such as Carhartt and Dickies are treated with Proban. These products are affordable and fairly effective at providing a somewhat lower degree of flame resistance than some of the other fabrics, but will provide ample protection for certain professionals.

What Is The Difference Between Inherent Flame Resistant Fabrics And Treated Flame Resistant Fabrics?

Fabrics that are IFR (Inherently Flame Resistant) are woven from fibers which are already flame resistant. This means these fabrics will remain flame resistant for a lifetime without any additional treatment necessary. Treated flame resistant fabrics, however, are fabrics that are sprayed or dipped into a flame resistant chemical. This treatment renders the fabrics flame resistant, but the flame resistance may not be permanent. These types of fabrics may lose some degree of their flame resistance through washing, regular use, and exposure to certain elements.

For professionals who require any degree of heat and flame resistance as a part of their work, there are a variety of fabrics available to choose from. From fabrics which are made of flame resistant fibers to fabrics which are treated with a flame resistant chemical, there is a style, weight, and brand to suit your needs and your budget.