FR Coverall Ratings

FLame Resistant (FR) Coverall Rating Guide

Carhartt Safety Standards
Carhartt NFPA and NESC Standards
You may wonder what ‘CAT 1’ or ‘NFPA 2112 Compliant’ when purchasing coveralls. This guide explains flame resistant (typically called ‘FRs’) coverall ratings and standards. Flame Resistant clothing in the United States is governed by two organizations: NFPA and IEEE. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created two standards for flame resistance clothing: NFPA 70E and NFPA 2112. 
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) produces a standard called National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). NESC is “published every 5 years to keep the Code up-to-date with changes in the industry and technology.” There are a few topics we need to cover before diving into NESC, NFPA 70E, and NFPA 2112. Arc Flashes, Arc Rating, Flame Resistance, and Flash Fires are important to know before understanding the standards.

Flame Resistance Overview

Flame Resistance is a characteristic of a material to self-extinguish after the heat source is removed. American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) and NFPA 2112 are two standards for testing flame resistant material. NFPA 2112 is the most commonly used testing procedure. Many local and state authorities require textile companies to comply with NFPA or ATSM, although they are not laws.  You may have seen Fire Retardant clothing and wonder if it’s the same as Flame Resistance. They are different! Flame resistant textiles are made with inherently non-flammable fabrics while Fire Retardant textiles are chemically treated to be self-extinguishing. Fire Retardant materials are usually cheaper than Flame Resistant materials since they are less expensive to produce. It’s important to maintain the longevity and cleanliness of FRs. There are various procedures you should follow when cleaning coveralls.

What Are Flash Arcs

Arc flashes are a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air. Dust, dropping metal, accidental touching, condensation, material failure, corrosion, or poor installation are some causes of arc flashes. Serious injury and even death can occur when a person is near an arc flash. Other outcomes include burns, fire, flying objects (molten metal), blast pressure of 2,000+ psi, 140 decibel sound blast, or 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit heat. Proximity of the worker to the hazard, temperature, and time for circuit to break dictate the severity of an injury.

Watch what an electric arc flash looks like in the video below.

What are flash fires

A flash fire is defined by NFPA as a “type of short-duration fire that spreads by means of a flame front rapidly through a diffuse fuel, such as dust, gas, or the vapors of an ignitable liquid, without the production of damaging pressure.” The flash fire consumes all the available fuel in the area (oxygen)  which creates a dangerous environment. It’s predominately present in Oil & Gas and Manufacturing industries since combustible dust is commonly created. 

United States Safety Standards

OSHA recognizes both NPFA and NESC as standards for FR clothing. Similarly, companies usually comply with these standards when manufacturing clothing. The 3 standards that cover Flame Resistant clothing are NFPA 2112, NFPA 70E and NESC. 


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created NFPA 70E for electrical safety. The code covers all industries who work in environments that are exposed to arc flashes. Typical occupations that NFPA 70E covers are industrial electricians, machine operators, and maintenance workers. NFPA 70E mandates employers to perform a hazard assessment to determine the arc level exposure. It is also the standard that created the 4 Category (ATPV/EBT) system that’s displayed on clothing.


NFPA 70E standard states that “Employees shall wear Arc Rated (AR) clothing wherever there is a possible exposure to an electric arc flash above the threshold incident energy level for a second-degree burn (1.2 cal/cm2)”. Keep in mind that Arc Rated clothing is also Flame-Resistant clothing.

Arc Rating is defined as the amount of energy a given fabric can withstand before a 50 percent likelihood of the onset of second-degree burn through the fabric. It’s measured in Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV) or Energy to Breakopen Threshold (EBT). In laymen’s terms, Arc Rating is a measurement of insulation so the higher the Arc Rating value the greater the protection is.

It is important to know that not all Arc Ratings are the same as there are two different measurements for Arc Rating.

  • ATPV is measured in calories per cm2 (heat per square centimeter). ATPV value represents the heat exposure from an electric arc that will create a second-degree burn 50% of the time tested. The higher the ATPV the greater the protection is.
  • EBT will break open at their Arc Rating by design leading to EBT less desired. Breaking open at a lower threshold than ATPV may cause exposure to flame on skin.
NFPA 70E Arc Rating

Look at the clothing tag when shopping for coveralls. The coveralls will have a category rating (1 through 4) if they are Arc Rated. Remember that coveralls can be Flame Resistant but have no Arc Rating.

nfpa 2112

NFPA 2112 is the standard for flame resistant clothing. It’s primarily for oil and petrochemical workers. The code requires an organization to conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the working environment to determine if there is a flash-fire risk. NFPA 2112 mandates that Flame-Resistant clothing must be worn if a flash-fire risk is present.

Another component of NFPA 2112 is the standardized method to determine if a clothing garment is flame resistant. Similar to NFPA 70E,  textiles are tested to determine if a maximum of 50% total body burn will occur when ignited for 3 seconds. In addition, the material cannot melt, drip, or have after-flame burning. The tests are performed by two independent laboratories: Intertek Testing Services and Underwriters Laboratories (“UL”). The labs certification will be shown on the clothing after successful tests. Lastly, all testing labels must be in an easy-to-see location on the garment.


Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) produces a safety standard called National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). NESC sets the standard for safe installation, operation, and maintenance of electric power and communication utility systems. These include power substations, power and communication overhead lines, and power and communication underground lines that is designed for the electrical utility industry. NESC and NFPA 70E are alike in that the standard focuses on electrical arcs and arc flashes.

Similar to NFPA, the organization is required to conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the working environment to determine potential exposure to electrical arcs.The code requires clothing that has an arc rating at least equal to the estimated level of arc energy present (if 2 cal/cm2 or higher will be present). ATPV rating will be used once the 2 cal/cm2 threshold is met or exceeded.

NESC is easy and simple since the code uses NFPA 70E 4 category ratings.