OHS Canada Magazine

FR Winter Coat Considerations

February 13, 2017
By Andrew Metzger

FR winter-wear season is upon us, and you don’t want to get left out in the cold! What are some of the features you need to look for in your perfect piece of flame-resistant outerwear that will keep you warm without hindering you from doing your job?

Your FR winter gear needs to stand up to all of the elements that the cold season can bring, including low temps, wind, snow, rain and more. A solid defence will keep you warm, dry and productive. There are a few factors to consider when deciding which FR winter coat is best for you on the job.

First and foremost, the most important factor when determining your flame-resistant coat is the FR protection required to keep you safe and compliant. Inform yourself what proper PPE is needed while on the jobsite. This may seem like a given, but it’s worth noting, as safety should always come first.

The outer shell is an important factor when determining your FR winter gear, acting as your first barrier from the outside elements. What are the weather conditions you anticipate working in? Will there be rain, snow and/or high wind? You may want to think about winter coats that are weatherproof, feature water repellency and will block wind gusts.

Along with the elements you’re working in, the jacket shell should also be working for you. For example, a breathable shell will keep you comfortable, managing your temperature.

Insulation is the component to your FR winter jacket that determines how well it will trap and retain your body heat for warmth. The higher the thickness (loft) of the insulation, the warmer you stay.

The type of insulation is also a factor for how well it will trap heat to keep you warm. For example, a jacket with Thinsulate insulation would be warmer than a jacket with polyester-mesh insulation of the same loft. Of course, the insulation can only go so far—how you close off the coat with draw cords, zipper and cuff adjusters will also determine how well you are kept warm.

No insulation warms you; it just prevents your own body heat from escaping. Jackets and coats that close up well and have the highest lofting insulating layer will keep you warmer.

One final thing to consider when choosing your FR winter jacket is the different features. You may benefit from a hood; does the coat you’re looking at have one attached, or is there an optional hood that you can snap on and off at your convenience?

Other features you may need to consider include adjustable or elastic cuffs and waist to trap heat, a front zipper storm flap, number of pockets for storage and, again, mobility boosters, such as Carhartt’s Full Swing, which will help you with ease of movement.

The FR jacket may affect your mobility while reaching, bending and crouching. If you are frequently doing these movements, a bulky coat may not be what you’re looking for. Also, an elastic waistband, while excellent at keeping the elements out, may also become a hassle if you’re reaching above your head, as it may rise with your reach, but not come back down when you bring your arms back down.

With all these things to consider, choosing your perfect FR jacket may seem like a daunting task. There is a coat for you and the elements you work in every day.

Andrew Metzger is the product coordinator with Slate Rock Safety, a division of Ritz Safety, in Medina, Ohio.

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