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 Post subject: Clothing which is better - treated or inherent
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:21 am 
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I would like to start a new thread regarding clothing. As I see it, there are 2 major types of FR clothing material in the marketplace – inherent protection and treated cotton/poly cotton blends.
Both types of clothing offer effective FR protection and both equally trash the other side.

What do you think? We’ve tried both and the jury’s out on our side…

• Will a treated material’s protection wash out before it wears out?
• Does Protera (Nomex, Kevlar) produce cyanide gas when exposed to an arc?
• Which material breathes better ounce for ounce?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:07 pm 
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Canuck01 wrote:
I would like to start a new thread regarding clothing. As I see it, there are 2 major types of FR clothing material in the marketplace – inherent protection and treated cotton/poly cotton blends.
Both types of clothing offer effective FR protection and both equally trash the other side.

What do you think? We’ve tried both and the jury’s out on our side…

• Will a treated material’s protection wash out before it wears out?
• Does Protera (Nomex, Kevlar) produce cyanide gas when exposed to an arc?
• Which material breathes better ounce for ounce?


Hugh should get in on this, he is the man for this question, but until then I will add some thoughts.

Canuck01 wrote:
Will a treated material’s protection wash out before it wears out?


Deoends on the material but most FR treated materials are good for around 500 washes or so when washed per the manufactures instructions. I don't think I own any clothes I have washed 500 times before they wear out.

Canuck01 wrote:
Does Protera (Nomex, Kevlar) produce cyanide gas when exposed to an arc?


I have some testing info on this somewhere, I will try to find it, but if I recall it only produced the gas when there was also moisture present, and even then it was in small amounts. A little gas is the least of my concerns if I am in the middle of an arc flash event.

Canuck01 wrote:
Which material breathes better ounce for ounce?


Which ever one the sales guy is trying to sell you :) . From my experience PBI gold seems to breathe the best, I have used that in the feild. The newer interlock knit materials made with indura US are also very breathable. I think they call the test for this "moisture regain"


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:38 pm 
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There is a big difference between Protera and Nomax. Protera is my favorite choice right now, as its light, breathes, and is reasonably soft. Its good for hot wather. Nomex is a very old technology and does not breathe well at all, and tends to be a bit stiff. For cold weather I like the all cotton like Indura. Its very soft and pliable and breathes well, althought a bit heavy for hot summers.

From what I understand the 'old' method of construction was to coat the fabric and that coating would wear off with washing. The new materials, both synthetic and organic, are inherently fire retardant. The 'color' may wear off, but the fire resistance won't be effected. You need to check this out with each manufacturer.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:10 am 
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Thanks for the replies.

Our clothing fleet includes garments for about 400 people. We are slowing switching over to 6.5 oz Protera from various weights of Indura Ultrasoft.
Since about 50% of the fleet is worn underground, we have a good chance to compare comfort. Underground temperature in about 87 Fahrenheit with some areas of “poor air circulation” so heat stress is a major concern. All PPE is mandated to be at least 8 cal ATPV so comfort has become the most important factor in the decision making process. Protera type fabrics are the hands down winner due to being able to dress in 6.5 oz clothing. The knit is looser so people feel cooler.
We’ve had huge problems with laundering Indura Ultrasoft – mostly due to shrinkage. Our dry attendants tend to try to speed up the drying process by cranking the heat. Protera seems immune to the laundry.
Issues with our clothing: welding spatter causing pinholes. Is there a “pinhole standard”? How holey is too holey? When do you toss the garment strictly to meet ASTM F1959?
Oil and grease contamination: what is the acceptable residual hydrocarbon loading from the cleaning process (is the smell test sufficient)? How do you tell on an ongoing basis? Is anybody finding this an issue?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:11 am 
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Zog wrote:
Deoends on the material but most FR treated materials are good for around 500 washes or so when washed per the manufactures instructions.


Indura Ultra Soft is quoted by Westex to last about 60-80 industrial launderings (http://www.westexinc.com/advanced/value.asp), quite far from 500. I know the number they quote is for a wash every other week, but since it's mostly used for daily wear, I think the quoted number of washes doesn't make sense. Is it possible that the limiting factor in this case is the service life, and the number of washes is so low only because it's washed every other week and washing more frequently wouldn't affect the properties?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Inherent vs. Treated?

This is really a tough one. You really laid out the issues well.

1. All materials produce smoke when burned. Smoke is ALWAYS bad BUT not nearly as bad as fire on the body. DuPont is eating crow over the cyanide gas because they spread this fact (rumor) about modacrylic for years until they started using it in their blends. The fact is that every material produces small amounts of gases in smoke and none is good for you but if it instantly or even gradually killed you, I would be dead since I do the testing of all these materials. It isn't good but not life threatening in a once or twice a career arc flash. I call this sales rhetoric. You'd think companies would be above this.

2. I have never seen a person die from smoke inhalation from arc rated clothing (and BET I will die without seeing it). Arc Rated clothing saves lives.

3. I have seen treated fabrics which should NOT be used. Very few have any traction in the US market.

4. There are several types of treatments and they are NOT all equal. Most sold in the US are excellent.

5. Experience and control systems make most of the difference.

6. Inherent vs Treated isn't really the question. Which treated company, which treatment process and what are you using it for.

7. I'm not a big fan of one treatment process because it can't take acid sour type industrial launderings BUT if you don't use acid sour it can work pretty well. t-Shirts is a good example of a shirt that will probably never be industrially laundered.

8. I have never seen a real person hurt because of treated fabrics which are commonly sold in the US but there are a few of the unnamed process I have seen burn even without washing them (the most common treatment processes sold in the US are very durable) but I haven't seen anyone hurt even in them.

Some inherents work better on durability in certain conditions. Aramids are better if exposed to acids in the work environment (battery rooms) but all the common materials are MUCH better than cotton!

Wear trial, stick with fabrics used by the larger companies and do some due diligence in choosing fabrics and you should be very pleased with your arc rated clothing program. The PPE you wear and forget about is the kind that saves your life.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Canuck01 wrote:
Issues with our clothing: welding spatter causing pinholes. Is there a “pinhole standard”? How holey is too holey? When do you toss the garment strictly to meet ASTM F1959?
Oil and grease contamination: what is the acceptable residual hydrocarbon loading from the cleaning process (is the smell test sufficient)? How do you tell on an ongoing basis? Is anybody finding this an issue?


Hugh: do you have any comments about these 2 issues?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:37 pm 
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How holey is too holey

There is no requirement in F1959. It is a test method. I have tested meshes and passed with some protection. The real critical factor on burns is area exposed and non-ignitability. We can get real picky but from a practical perspective it isn't life threatening to have pinholes.

On breathability there are many factors. I'm a fan of light weight layers. Some day someone will try a lightweight FR t-shirt and a lightweight FR shirt and realize they could have done this years ago. I wear lots of different clothing. For comfort a DriFire or Antex t-shirt with a Nomex over is very light protective and comfortable. Or give me one layer for cost like UltraSoft, Banwear, Milliken etc or give me a Proterra. One layer is cheaper to get to 8 cal but all options have plusses and minuses.

On hydrocarbon loading, if you wash a single layer garment in hot water with a good detergent you will almost always get it out. Multi layer suits might take more washing if soaked in oil, etc. I haven't heard of much problem, more worrying than anything. I'm pro laundering well and industrial laundrys do great on getting out hydrocarbons. The smell test doesn't always work. I have smelled creasote and yet the shirt arc tested fine.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:39 pm 
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Drying and Shrinkage

Drying does make most of the shrinkage. Home laundry will make the clothing last longer usually but IL gets out dirt and oil better if really dirty or if you have a nasty chemical you really need to get out.

Good to hear the good news about Proterra. I have liked it and TecaSafe Plus. There are several good materials out there. Amazing 15 years ago we had basically three.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:54 pm 
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In general, industrial laundering temps are 180 degrees. This will cause shrinkage or in the case of indura ultasoft knit, destroy it.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:59 am 
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Industrial Laundering

IL is most frequently 160-190F. Some IL detergent systems allow slightly lower but I would doubt the 180F would destroy most FR knits by itself. The issue in IL laundry is the "break" which is 400 lbs of laundry turning in the machine. Most knits are destroyed in larger machines. You wash knits a home or have the IL company use a smaller machine called a "pony". These hold about 35 lbs of laundry and are not nearly as destructive. One brand of FR cotton knit has recently passed 100 washes in a "pony" machine.

Things get better all the time. Don't you love progress?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:44 pm 
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WR TechGuy

One of the keys is to buy high quality garments of high quality fabrics. They all have there pros and cons but high quality ones will do the job. Check out http://www.knowyourfr.com and get some insights on what to look for.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:03 am 
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I thought I'd revive this discussion. Hugh, you previously wrote:
elihuiv wrote:
On hydrocarbon loading, if you wash a single layer garment in hot water with a good detergent you will almost always get it out. Multi layer suits might take more washing if soaked in oil, etc. I haven't heard of much problem, more worrying than anything. I'm pro laundering well and industrial laundrys do great on getting out hydrocarbons. The smell test doesn't always work. I have smelled creasote and yet the shirt arc tested fine.


At our company, we are having a discussion about how clean is clean. Group A feels that if FR coveralls are contaminated with grease or oil and that contamination is washed out, but leaves a visible stain, then the FR coveralls have to be thrown out. Group B feels that a well laundered garment is acceptable, even if a mild stain remains where the contamination was.

Is there a measure or percentage to use for how big a stain has to be before the garment has to be discarded? Is there any difference if the fabric is FR treated or Inherently FR?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:26 am 
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SueLIC wrote:
I thought I'd revive this discussion. Hugh, you previously wrote:


At our company, we are having a discussion about how clean is clean. Group A feels that if FR coveralls are contaminated with grease or oil and that contamination is washed out, but leaves a visible stain, then the FR coveralls have to be thrown out. Group B feels that a well laundered garment is acceptable, even if a mild stain remains where the contamination was.

Is there a measure or percentage to use for how big a stain has to be before the garment has to be discarded? Is there any difference if the fabric is FR treated or Inherently FR?


I also asked Hugh this question.
Here's part of his answer:

On hydrocarbon loading, if you wash a single layer garment in hot water with a good detergent you will almost always get it out. Multi layer suits might take more washing if soaked in oil, etc. I haven't heard of much problem, more worrying than anything. I'm pro laundering well and industrial laundrys do great on getting out hydrocarbons. The smell test doesn't always work. I have smelled creasote and yet the shirt arc tested fine.


We will be submitting a batch of "contaminated" clothing for testing at Kinectrics later this year but the simple answer would seem to be if you can see it or smell it, you should probably re-launder the garment. It really depends on the level of contamination...


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