Flash Forward: Upcoming Edition of NFPA 2112 Reflects Substantive Changes
Flash fire protection is an important safety aspect for personnel who work around flammable substances, such as solvents, fuels, dusts and gases. While fires involving these substances can occur very quickly, an additional hazard results from flammable garments that can continue burning on personnel after the fire has passed.
NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire, was developed to address this hazard. Garments that meet the requirements of NFPA 2112 do not continue to burn or shrink, and generally protect a large portion of a worker’s body from short-term thermal exposure. NFPA 2112 is concurrently used with NFPA 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures; OSHA encourages the use of both standards.
NFPA 2112 is currently completing a revision cycle to update the standard from the 2012 edition to the 2018 edition. The development of the standard was pushed back an extra year due to the amount of work that was required. While these revisions have not been finalized and still may be subject to some adjustments via the final stages of the process in developing NFPA standards the overall changes stretch across five different topics, as follows:
New Definitions and Terms for Clarity
During the revision cycle for NFPA 2113, the NFPA 2113 Technical Committee (TC) discussed a more refined and descriptive term for the hazard that the standards addressed. In general, the TC decided to start defining the hazard as a “short duration thermal exposure from fire”; this term is much more descriptive than “flash fire,” the general term that was previously utilized.
Inherent flame resistance was also added to the standard from NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. It is important to note that while NFPA 1971 and NFPA 2112 have some similarities, the two types of garments can be vastly different and cannot be interchanged. New definitions were also added as a result of the decision by the TC to add new garments to the standard.
It was proposed to the TC to add testing and performance requirements for new flame-resistant garments that had begun to appear on the market. The new garments that were added include “shrouds/hoods/balaclavas” as one item, and gloves. The shrouds/hoods/balaclavas are defined to cover those items intended to protect the head and/or neck. Gloves are defined as garments that are designed to protect the hands and wrist.
At this time, there are no ASTM F1930 equivalent test procedures for shrouds/hoods/balaclavas and gloves. (ASTM F1930 is also known as the Manikin Test.) New test procedures were considered, but ultimately removed to allow for development of a new procedure via the ASTM development process. For the time being, the TC decided to include performance and construction requirements for these garments (such as construction, thermal shrinkage, heat transfer protective performance, flame resistance, thread, hardware and interlinings).
Cold Weather and Interlining Protection
Before beginning the revision of the 2012 edition of NFPA 2112, it was brought to the attention of the TC that there was information missing from the standard that could cause an adverse impact on a product or method. In situations where it is believed that such information was overlooked in previous revision cycles, the TC can request that the NFPA Standards Council issue a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA). A TIA was issued, TIA 12-2 to address the issues of cold weather insulation and interlining. Prior to the issuance of the TIA, testing for after-flame, fire resistance, and thermal shrinkage was performed on materials in a configuration that was not representative of that seen in application. Typically, these materials serve as internal insulation when used in garments in the field, and are therefore not directly exposed to fire. However, during testing, the materials were being directly exposed to fire, which resulted in restricted use of cold weather gear without adding additional safety to the garments.
The TIA incorporated modifications to the testing requirements for cold weather and interlining materials for the 2012 edition to allow the use of these materials in NFPA 2112 gear. During the revision process for the 2018 edition, the TC incorporated these allowances for the performance and testing requirements.
There is a requirement in NFPA 2112 to reduce the amount of non-flame resistant emblems placed on a flame resistant garment. If too many non-flame resistant emblems are placed on a flame resistant garment the emblems can continue to burn and represent a hazard to the personnel wearing the garment. It was brought to the attention of the TC that emblems can be flame resistant to avoid these concerns. If the emblems are represented as flame resistant then additional separate testing requirements needed to be added to confirm the emblems will provide the desired performance. Reflective striping also now needs to be tested for flame resistance.
The last item that was addressed by the TC during this revision cycle was a concern about variability in the ASTM F1930 testing standard, or Manikin Test, is one of the tests required for full garment systems for protection of the arms, legs, and torso. This test sets up an approximation of what would be experienced in the field, in which a human shape is exposed to a short duration thermal exposure from fire, and measures the thermal exposure underneath the garment.
The TC has added two requirements to the testing apparatus to address concerns around variability. First, the lab must verify the response from the sensors to a heat flux before being mounted on the manikin. Second, the TC has added a requirement for two standard reference garments which are constructed of known materials with known results. Before a lab can certify results for the Manikin Test, the lab must test the reference garments and attain results within a predisposed range.
The 2018 version of NFPA 2112 will be published August 10, 2017 at the latest. Following this publication, the revision process will restart for the 2023 edition opening the document for input from the public in 2018. C