What You Wear Over FR Garments Really Matters

There is a widely held belief that workers can wear any type of outerwear over flame-resistant (FR) clothing and still be protected. This is a dangerous misconception that can result in serious injury or death. That’s because non-FR outerwear can ignite, burn vigorously and transfer heat through the FR garment worn below, resulting in significantly increased burn injury.

To illustrate the importance of wearing FR outerwear over FR garments, DuPont conducted test burn demonstrations using DuPont™ Thermo-Man®—one of the most advanced thermal burn injury evaluation devices in the world.

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A video of the test shows what happens when non-FR outerwear versus outerwear made with DuPont™ Nomex® IIIA is worn over FR garments during a simulated flash fire event. In this situation, the total predicted burn injury (TPBI) was 15% for the outerwear made with Nomex® IIIA compared to 43% for the non-FR outerwear. It is important to note that a body burn of 50% or greater is a very serious and life-threatening injury.

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Outerwear and NFPA 2113

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2113 “Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures From Fire” is a standard primarily for end-users. Recognized by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a tool for 29 CFR 1910.132, NFPA 2113 aids in the performance of a fire/exposure hazard analysis and is a guide for the selection of proper protective clothing, including outerwear.

NFPA 2113 specifies the use of garments that:

  • Meet minimum NFPA 2112 requirements
  • Fulfill the required protection identified in the hazard analysis
  • Address the needs of specific work tasks

NFPA 2113 also provides information about proper wearing and training, as well as care and maintenance of the protective clothing, which includes neck, face, head, hand and foot coverings.

Although minimum requirements for design, construction, evaluation and certification of FR garments are specified in NFPA 2112 “Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire,” compliance to this standard does not mean that all garments meeting this standard provide the same level of protection. The important thing to remember is that even though a garment is certified to NFPA 2112, it may not be the best solution for your specific fire hazard.

Outerwear Made with Nomex® Provides Proven Protection

Nomex® is a revolutionary, inherently heat- and flame-resistant fiber that helps provide industrial workers with protection from intense heat and flames. When exposed to extreme heat, Nomex® undergoes a special reaction, changing its properties to capture more energy in the fabric, giving the wearer valuable extra seconds of protection from heat transfer.

What’s more, Nomex® branded fabrics and garments:

  • Exceed NFPA 2112 minimum requirements for predicted burn injury
  • Won’t melt or drip when exposed to heat and flames
  • Have heat- and flame-resistance built into the fiber so it can’t be washed out or worn away
  • Are durable, potentially lasting three to five times longer than other protective fabrics

The DuPont™ Thermo-Man® thermal protection evaluation system is used to compare the relative thermal protective performance of fabrics by exposing full-size garments in accordance with ASTM F1930 to laboratory simulations of an engulfment fire condition.

The results of these tests are only predictions of body burn injury under this laboratory condition.

Because the dynamics of real fires vary greatly and can be more or less intense than the fire used in the manikin test, these results do not duplicate nor represent garment or  fabric performance under actual fire conditions.