At this point, most safety professionals in the Oil and Gas industry are specifying 2112 compliant garments. Thankfully, there are many 2112 certified choices in the market. We are often asked to describe what 2112 certification means and why end users should care about it. Let’s cover these points and some other frequently asked questions.
What is a FLASH FIRE and how long does it last?
A Flash Fire occurs when a flammable vapor, gas, or dust is suspended in air and then ignites. This type of fire has a rapidly moving flame front that spreads from the point of ignition to the edge of the diffuse fuel. Because the flame moves quickly and consumes the fuel as it goes, an individual’s exposure to a flash fire event is expected to be 3 seconds or less. Note that Fuel-Fed fires are different. Unlike flash fires, FUEL-FED fires can last much longer. They require a different level of PPE and are not in the scope of 2112. NFPA 2112 specifies the test methods and minimum construction and performance requirements that FR fabrics, components, and garments must meet to provide protection from Flash Fires. Protection isn’t guaranteed, but this represents best practices based on available data.
Is there a way to verify that a garment is 2112 certified?
Yes, independent certifying organizations maintain online databases that indicate the companies and products that are certified to meet 2112. These databases also show the same information for fabric mills and component suppliers. If you want to verify that a supplier’s products are certified, ask them to send you a link to the online database.
Is there a way to compare the performance of 2112 certified garments?
Yes, 2112 Certified fabrics, components, and garments are tested and evaluated by independent testing and certification companies. Some of these tests produce meaningful data that can be helpful when trying to evaluate competing solutions. One of the most important tests is ASTM F1930 (the Mannequin Test). In this test, a coverall (made from the fabric to be tested) is placed on a special mannequin that has 100 heat detecting sensors. The mannequin is exposed to a simulated flash fire for 3 seconds and the mannequin’s sensors record heat that would result in a 2nd or 3rd degree burn. To Pass the Mannequin test, the total body burn must not exceed 50%. A perfect score on this test is around 7% body burn (the head and neck have sensors but are not covered). One fabric could “Pass” with a 45% body burn and another could “Pass” at 10% body burn. If both fabrics are fairly equal other than the body burn percent, most people would want they more protective fabric. If you want to compare Body Burn percentages of particular fabrics or garments, you must request this information from the appropriate fabric mill or garment manufacturer.
What are the most important changes in the latest version of NFPA 2112 (2018)?
The term “flash fire” is replaced by “short duration thermal exposure” to reinforce that this standard doesn’t address the protective requirements of longer duration FUEL-FED fires. Certain PPE garments such as gloves, balaclavas, and hoods aren’t practical to test on a full sized mannequin. The new standard includes construction requirements for these garments and allows them to be tested and certified without a mannequin test. Emblems claiming to be FR must pass new tests. The appendix includes non-mandatory guidance that Non-FR emblems should be limited to 16 in2 each and the total area of all Non-FR emblems should be limited to 40 in2. This is reasonable and other standards are likely to adopt this language. The new standard requires all fabric and garment manufacturers to recertify their products to the newest version and to update their labeling on new production to reflect compliance with latest version.
What’s the difference between NFPA 2112 and NFPA 2113?
2112 specifies the test methods and minimum performance requirements and that FR fabrics, components and garments must meet in order to claim compliance with the standard. These tests and requirements have been developed by industry consensus to provide a certain level of protection in a short duration thermal exposure. 2113 provides helpful guidance on performing hazard assessments, establishing the level of protection needed, specifying the appropriate PPE clothing and evaluating proposals from suppliers. It also provides guidance on the use, care, and maintenance of FR clothing. For employers trying to design and run a Flash Fire PPE program, 2113 is more important than 2112.