Benefits of Flame Resistant Base Layers
What should you wear inside Flame Resistant (FR) & Arc Rated (AR) protective clothing?

Importance of Base Layers with Flame Resistant & Arc Rated Clothing

  • What do standards say about undergarments or base layers with Flame Resistant Clothing?
  • Options available for better protection
  • Understand the best practice

This is a question we come across very often and for good reasons. It is not uncommon to wear an undergarment round the clock for added comfort or warmth. But how does this common practice apply in work environments or industrial activities where there is a possible hazard associated?

What do the standards say about the undergarments or base layers?

Common industry standards do not specify use of a base layer, as long as the outer layer is FR and meets the standards associated with the hazard predicted in the industry. However, some industry standards do recommend that the base layers should not be made in material which can melt under exposure of industrial hazards.

We are all familiar that use of melt-able base layer, even below an FR/AR garment, can cause major damage in case the impact of fire or arc flash reaches the base layer. This will lead to rapid ignition, melting of textile material which can stick to the wearer skin thus causing severe injuries. The AR garments can protect the wearer from any second-degree burn if the rating of the outer garment was higher than the incident energy of the arc. However, the base layer igniting even for a short duration could dramatically change the outcome – from no injury to serious burns.  Burns caused by liquids like molten polymers of textile material can most often lead to third degree burns which might require skin grafting, however sometimes these injuries are completely irreparable.

What are the options available for better protection?

If we think of eliminating the melt-able base layers, what are the possible options available:

Option 1: No base layer
  • You comply with requirements as per standards.
  • No cover except the outer layer in case of an accident
  • Possibilities of burn injuries in case of an unbuttoned shirt front or sleeves, improper overlap of Shirt & Trousers, creating room for fire or arc flash to sneak inside
  • Can even lead to severe damage to wearer skin
Option 2: 100% cotton base layer
  • You comply with requirements as per standards.
  • Cotton is flammable and hence risk of burn injury is still a possibility
  • A better protection level as compared to option 1
 Option 3: Flame Resistant / Arc Rated base layer
  • In case of an accident, well equipped to reduce impact or damage, as both layers work towards better protection
  • FR/AR base layer will add to the arc rating of the outer layer and thereby provide higher arc protection levels

To explain this better please check the below image of an instrumented manikin showing possible burn injury in all 3 cases. This would very clearly substantiate the requirement of wearing FR undergarments beneath the FR / AR clothing systems for best protection.

Burn Injury Prediction with / without Flame Resistant base layers

So, you see that the 2nd and the 3rd burn injuries possible in case of no base layer is substantially higher and can lead to loss of life. In case of Cotton undergarments this risk is reduced by almost 35% which further reduces to almost negligible in case of use of Flame Resistant undergarments.

Tarasafe with its two decades of experience, highly recommends use of FR base layers for superior comfort and higher protection levels. For further information on our base layers, kindly connect with us today at


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