Navy Working Uniform

Below is a message that was sent from US Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Bill Gortney to commanding officers and command master chiefs regarding the flame resistant qualities of our Navy Working Uniform (Type 1):

 UNCLASSIFIED//

RAAUZYUW RUCBCLF0008 3470737-UUUU–RHMCSUU.
ZNR UUUUU
R 120737Z DEC 12
FM COMUSFLTFORCOM NORFOLK VA
TO COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
ALFLTFORCOM
ALPACFLT
INFO CNO WASHINGTON DC
COMUSFLTFORCOM NORFOLK VA
CHINFO WASHINGTON DC
BT
UNCLAS PERSONAL FOR COMMANDERS, COMMANDING OFFICERS, OFFICERS IN CHARGE AND COMMAND MASTER CHIEFS SECINFO/-/-// MSGID/GENADMIN,USMTF,2012/COMUSFLTFORCOM NORFOLK VA// SUBJ/NAVY WORKING UNIFORM// REF/A/MSGID:MEMO/VCNO/10MAY1996// GENTEXT/REMARKS/1.  IN 1996, NAVY LEADERSHIP REMOVED FLAME RESISTANT REQUIREMENTS FROM NAVY WORKING UNIFORMS (NWU).
CONSISTENT WITH THIS DECISION, COMMANDS HAVE SINCE THAT TIME BEEN REQUIRED TO PURCHASE FLAME RESISTANT ORGANIZATIONAL CLOTHING FOR SAILOR USE.  THERE HAS BEEN NO CHANGE IN THIS REQUIREMENT.  THEREFORE, THE NWU TYPE I WAS APPROPRIATELY DESIGNED WITHOUT FLAME RESISTANT QUALITIES.
2.  ON 15 OCTOBER 2012, AN IMPROMPTU TEST CONDUCTED BY THE NAVY CLOTHING TEXTILE RESEARCH FACILITY IN NATICK, MA REINFORCED THE FACT THAT THE NWU TYPE I IS NOT FLAME RESISTANT AND FURTHER FOUND THAT WHEN SUBJECTED TO FLAME IT WILL BURN ROBUSTLY UNTIL COMPLETELY CONSUMED.
3.  AS THE CNO’S EXECUTIVE AGENT FOR DAMAGE CONTROL MODERNIZATION AND IMPROVEMENT, I NEED YOU TO ENSURE THE
FOLLOWING:
A.  SAILORS ARE AWARE THAT TYPE I NWU’S LACK THIS FLAME RESISTANT QUALITY.
B.  SAILORS HAVE BEEN PROPERLY ISSUED FLAME RESISTANT ORGANIZATIONAL CLOTHING IN KEEPING WITH DUTIES ASSIGNED:
E.G., ENGINE ROOM PERSONNEL, PERSONNEL INVOLVED IN FLIGHT RELATED DUTIES, DAMAGE CONTROL PERSONNEL, FIRE FIGHTERS, WELDING, COMBAT MISSIONS SUBJECT TO IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVISES (IED) ATTACKS, ETC.).
4.  INFORMED BY THIS IMPROMPTU TEST AND IN COORDINATION WITH THE UNIFORM BOARD, ADM HANEY AND I WILL CONTINUE TO REVIEW THE REQUIREMENTS FOR — AND FLAME RESISTANT QUALITIES OF — WORKING UNIFORMS, INCLUDING THE TYPE I NWUS.  WE WILL EXPLORE LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS THAT AFFORD OUR SAILORS THE RIGHT PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, ALIGNED WITH THE TASKS THEY ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM IN VARIOUS OPERATING ENVIRONMENTS.
5.  ADM BILL GORTNEY SENDS.//
BT
#0008
NNNN


By Rear Adm. John Kirby, Chief of Information

Beyond the information provided in the message, I wanted to offer some additional context and perspective.
Upfront, we need to acknowledge that since 1996 there has not been a Fleet requirement to have flame resistant working uniforms for all hands. Where there is a need, fire retardant/flame resistant clothing is provided—damage control personnel, fire fighters, Sailors involved in flight duties, etc….
As discussed in Adm. Gortney’s message, an impromptu test conducted on the NWU Type I uniform fabric reinforced for us the fact that it isn’t flame resistant and that it will melt and burn to consumption. Again, this test was impromptu—not driven by a change in Fleet requirements.
I have provided a copy of the report below so that you can see for yourself what conclusions were drawn and what our Fleet commanders and uniform board will use to inform both short-and long-term decisions about working uniforms.
Both Adm. Gortney at Fleet Forces Command and Adm. Haney at Pacific Fleet were provided the results of this test in pretty quick fashion. Together, they are committed to ensuring our Sailors are provided the appropriate equipment and guidance to keep them safe while carrying out the missions of our Navy.
The safety of our Sailors, both afloat and ashore, remains a paramount concern. Nothing changes about that. And nothing changes about the wear of the NWU Type I aboard ship or installations.
As more information becomes available, we will provide updates via this blog and on our Navy media properties.

REPORT ON

 ASTM D6413 Standard Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles (Vertical Test)

 OF

 Navy Working Uniform, Flame Resistant Army Combat Uniform and United States Marine Corps Flame Resistant Organizational Gear Combat Uniform Materials

15 OCT 2012

Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility

Natick, MA

TEST METHOD:

Testing was conducted in accordance with ASTM D6413 Standard Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles (Vertical Test).  This test assesses the self-extinguishing and melt/drip characteristics of textile materials.  Using this method, 3” wide by 12” long specimens are subjected to a flame for 12 seconds.  The after-flame time, after-glow time and char length are measured and any melting/dripping is recorded.  Testing was performed on samples conditioned for a minimum of 24hrs at 70°F and 65%RH.

TEST EQUIPMENT:

United States Testing Co., Inc.
Hoboken, NJ
Vertical Flammability Tester
Model 7635A
S/N 13410

TEST RESULTS:

*Note: The char lengths measurements are estimates since these specimens will be mounted for display purposes; taking actual char length measurements would damage the samples.

DISCUSSION:
The purpose of this flame resistance (FR) testing was to conduct side-by-side testing of textiles used in the Navy Working Uniform (non-FR), the FR Army Combat Uniform (FR ACU), and the USMC FR Organizational Gear (FROG) Combat Uniform.  The vertical flame specimens will be mounted on poster boards for a visual display of non-FR and FR textiles exposed to flame.

Typical requirements for a FR material used in a working/combat uniforms are a 2 second or less after-flame time, a 25 second or less after-glow time, a char length of less than 4.5 inches, and no melting or dripping. The FR ACU and USMC FROG materials tested are FR, therefore, they are self extinguishing and pass the FR requirements. Both the FR ACU and USMC FROG materials are comprised of 65% FR rayon, 25% para-aramid, and 10% nylon.

The NWU is not a FR uniform; its material is comprised of a 50% nylon/50% cotton (NYCO) blend and when subjected to a flame it will burn robustly until completely consumed. The after-flame time of the NWU samples tested was typically greater than 60 seconds with no after-glow time since there was no material left after exposure.  The nylon component of the NWU material is a thermoplastic fiber that melts and drips as it burns.  If this sticky molten material came in contact with skin it would contribute to increased burn injury due to conductive energy transfer. The use of the NYCO material in an environment where there is potential for a flame or thermal threat is not recommended.

TEST ORGANIZATION AND SUPPORT:

Physical Properties testing was conducted at the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility, Natick, MA

Update: Video added to this blog Dec. 27, 2012


Video Caption: The purpose of this Oct. 15, 2012 flame resistance (FR) test was to conduct side-by-side testing of textiles used in the USMC FR Organizational Gear (FROG) Combat Uniform and the Navy Working Uniform (non-FR). The vertical flame specimens was mounted on poster boards for a visual display of non-FR and FR textiles exposed to flame. Testing was conducted in accordance with ASTM D6413 Standard Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles (Vertical Test). This test assesses the self-extinguishing and melt/drip characteristics of textile materials. Using this method, 3″ wide by 12″ long specimens are subjected to a flame for 12 seconds. The after-flame time, after-glow time and char length are measured and any melting/dripping is recorded. Testing was performed on samples conditioned for a minimum of 24hrs at 70°F and 65%RH.