Fire Safety Gloves – Know the Specifications

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Fire Safety Gloves: What you Need to Know About Standards

Risking your life going into burning buildings and dealing with fires for the protection of others is one of the bravest things that a person can do. Ensuring that people who deal with fire are protected from its effects is of the highest importance and when it comes to using the right protective equipment, you can't take chances. Luckily, we live in a world where all of our products have been rigorously tested to ensure that they provide the protection that you need — these professional certifications provide you with piece of mind that your equipment is up to snuff.

But with all of these different certifications governing all different aspects of glove safety, how are you supposed to know what each specific standard means? At Safety Gloves, we have compiled a blog for helping you to tell the difference between EN specifications and any other standards that you might come across when browsing our range of Firefighting Gloves.

EN Standards

What are EN Standards?

In this article you will hear a lot about "EN Standards" — but what exactly is an EN Standard? Put simply, EN Standards are European standards that govern the production and quality of everything from safety gloves to road grit and everything in between. To achieve an EN Standard, you need to be ratified by one of three European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs): CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. These three organisations have been internationally recognised as having the technical competency and impartiality to ensure that they can accurately test products and determine their value.

Why Should I Trust EN Standards?

EN standards are recognised all over Europe as the go-to standards for technical products and specifications and there is a good reason why. You can trust that items that meet EN specifications reach a certain level of quality and the standards are also useful for determining the relative merit of similar products.

At Safety Gloves, we believe in providing you with the best possible information to allow you to make an informed choice — the right choice. We strive to include as much information about EN Standards as possible, providing you with the necessary information to select the right product for your needs. While we also use some alternative standards, the vast majority of the standards we use are EN.

Physical Resistance

EN 388

Though EN 388 does not pertain directly to fire safety, many fire safety gloves (for example the Southcombe Firemaster Wildland Gloves) have been specified to EN 388. EN 388 covers the physical resistance and toughness of Safety Gloves across four categories: abrasion resistance, cut resistance, tear resistance, and puncture resistance. When you are dealing with fire, you need to know that your gloves will not be susceptible to cuts or other physical threats that may lower their quality. The physical resistance of a pair of gloves is also a useful gauge for the level of durability that the gloves have, with greater resistance usually meaning a greater lifespan of your work gloves.

Abrasion Resistance

Resistance to abrasion is highly important to firefighters, as many times you will have to handle rough materials that may abrade your gloves and you need to know that they will last. Abrasion resistance is measured on a scale of 1 to 4 by taking a sample glove and seeing how many cycles (abrasion by sandpaper under a stipulated pressure) is required to abrade the glove. Please see the table below for more details.

Cut Resistance

Cut resistance allows you to handle sharp objects without risking injury to your hands. EN 388 measures cut resistance on a scale between 1 and 5 by determining how many continuous cycles are needed to cut through the exterior of the sample glove.

Tear Resistance

Tear resistance is measured on a scale between 1 and 4 by finding the amount of force that is necessary (in newtons) to tear the glove. Tear resistance is a good indicator of how the glove will perform with daily wear and tear.

Puncture Resistance

To measure puncture resistance, the amount of force required to penetrate the glove with a standard sized point is measured. Please be aware that the highest level of puncture resistance may not protect against very sharp points such as glass or needles — please check the individual product pages for more information.

Specifications for EN 388 Standard

Test Performance Level
  1 2 3 4 5
Abrasion Resistance (Cycles) 100 500 2000 8000 N/A
Blade Cut Resistance (Factor) 1.2 2.5 5 10 20
Tear Resistance (Newton) 10 25 50 75 N/A
Puncture Resistance (Newton) 20 60 100 150 N/A

A video showcasing the cut resistant properties of Southcombe Kevlar Lined Gloves

Heat Resistance

EN 366

EN 366 measures the behaviour (structural changes & heat transfer) of protective clothing when exposed to a radiant heat source (six electrically heated rods) that is emitting a specific heat flux in kW/m2.

EN 366 Testing Method

There are two different methods that are used to see whether the gloves are suitable:

  • Method A: The gloves are mounted in a frame and exposed to heat flux; structural changes in the specimen are recorded
  • Method B: The specimen is mounted on a calorimeter and exposed to heat — the heat transmitted through the specimen is measured by the rise in temperature of the calorimeter.

The gloves are tested at three different temperatures:

  • Low: between 5 and 10 kW/m2 — representative of industrial heat (foundry workers, for example)
  • Medium: between 20 and 40kW/m2 — representative of fire fighting
  • High: 80kW/m2 — representative of emergency interventions in fire, including short time exposure to fire.

EN 366 Expression of Results

The results are expressed in the following manner:

  • Method A: all visual changes in the structure of the test specimen
  • Method B: heat transfer levels are determined from the temperature-time curve of the calorimeter:
    • T1: Time (in seconds) to first degree burns
    • T2: Time (in seconds) to second degree burns
    • T3: Time (in seconds) to reach a heat flux of 2.5kW/m2 on the back of the specimen
    • Heat Transmission Factor: the ratio (in per cent) between transmitted and incident heat flux

EN 367

The standard EN 367 allows you to tell how heat is transmitted through materials used in safety gloves. To measure this, a sample specimen is placed above a gas burner and subjected to an incident heat flux of 80 kW/m2; the heat passing through the specimen is then measured by means of a small copper calorimeter on top and in contact with the specimen. The time (in seconds) taken for the temperature to rise 24°C (± 0.2°C) from a starting temperature of 25°C (±5°C) is recorded. The mean results of 3 samples is then calculated as the Heat Transfer Index (HTI24).

EN 702

To be specified to EN 702 for contact heat transfer, the glove is put in contact with a temperature of 250°C and the time taken to raise the temperature by 10°C is measured.

Flame Resistance

EN 407

EN 407 is a standard that is used to determine the level of protection that gloves have against a number of thermal hazards. The standard has six different tests that are designed to cover a range of threats, each of which is given a result between 1 and 4, with 1 being the least protection and 4 being the most.

Resistance to Flammability

The sample is lit with a gas flame, with the flame being held against the material for 15 seconds. After the gas flame has been extinguished, the length of time that material either glows or burns is measured. For more information regarding results, please see the table below.

Resistance to Contact Heat

The sample material is exposed to temperatures between 100°C and 500°C and the length of time that it takes the temperature from the inside of the material to heat up by 10°C is measured. The accepted length of time for approval is 15 seconds.

Resistance to Convective Heat

The amount of time is measure for the heat from a gas flame at 80kw/kvm to increase the temperature of the inside of the glove by 24°C.

Resistance to Convective Heat

The sample is stretched in front of a heat source of between 20 and 40kw/kvm and the average time is measured for a heat penetration of 2.5kw/kvm.

Resistance to Small Splashes of Molten Metal

This test determines the total drops of molten metal that is required to increase the temperature of the gloves by between 40°C between the inside of the gloves an the skin.

Resistance to Large Splashes of Molten Metal

The glove is attached to simulated skin before molten metal is poured over the material. The total weight in grams of molten metal that is required to damage the simulated skin is measured.

Specifications of EN 407

Test Results
  1 2 3 4
After Burn Time (Seconds) ≤20s ≤10s ≤3s ≤2s
After Glove Time (Seconds) Infinity ≤120s ≤25s ≤5s
Contact Heat (Temperature in°C after 15 seconds) 100°C 250°C 350°C 500°C
Convective Heat (Seconds) ≤4s ≤7s ≤10s ≤18s
Radiant Heat (Seconds) ≤5s ≤30s ≤90s ≤150s
Drops of Molten Metal (Number of drops) ≥5s ≥15s ≥25s ≥35s
Molten Metal (Grams) 30g 60g 120g 200g

Video showcasing the flame resistant nature of Southcombe gloves such as the Southcombe Firemaster 4 Classic Gloves

Firefighting Standards

EN 659

The standard EN 659 is different than the other standards as it does not measure an attribute of the glove but instead measures its overall suitability for structural firefighting. As such, it draws on a number of other EN standards that have already been measured — please see below for details.

Standard Property Requirement
EN 388 Abrasion Level 1 (500 cycles)
EN 388 Cut Resistance Level 1 (2.5 factor)
EN 388 Tear Resistance Level 2 (25N)
EN 388 Puncture Resistance Level 1 (60N)
EN 366 Radiant Heat T2 of ≥15 seconds
EN 407 Burning Behaviour Level 4*
EN 407 Convective Heat Level 3 (≤10 seconds)
EN 407 Contact Heat T2 of ≥10 seconds

*After Flame Time: ≤2 seconds; After Glow Time ≤5 seconds

Other Requirements

On top of the above results, EN 659 monitors a number of other factors to ensure that the gloves are 100% suitable for firefighting including:

  • Sizes shall comply to the general requirements of EN 420 (for general glove requirements)
  • When the gloves are manufactured from different materials, the materials shall be tested separately
  • The gloves shall be compatible with the sleeves of protective clothing
  • Dexterity: performance level 1 based on a practical test (EN 420)
  • Heat resistance: the gloves should not melt or drip

NFPA 1971-2013

Gloves that have been certified to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1971-2013, an American standard that certifies gloves as fit for use with structural firefighting. The standard is much like EN 659, in as much as it governs the general properties that gloves need to be suitable for structural firefighting. NFPA 1971-2013 is a little more rigorous than EN 659, meaning that gloves that are to this standard have the best level of quality.