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Top 10 Things To Consider Before You Buy FR

26 Jan


It’s likely you know a thing or two about FR. You know that FR clothing protects your guys against severe burn injuries and even death as a result of thermal incidents on the job. You know it’s also required by law in many different industries, under many different regulations. But all FR is not created equal. Do you know all the factors to consider when making your FR purchase?

To help you make this important decision, the FR experts here at Bulwark have put together a list of their top 10 things to consider when buying FR. Read on to ensure the FR clothing you choose will keep your guys safe and compliant, no matter what the job throws at them.





Your number one priority should always be ensuring that your FR clothing offers the correct level of protection against your hazard, whether it’s electric arc, flash fire or combustible dust.



Your FR clothing’s stated protection level should be guaranteed for the life of the garment. No exceptions.



Your FR clothing must meet, or better yet exceed, the safety and performance standards required by your industry, such as OSHA 1910.269 for Electric Utility and NFPA® 2112 for Oil & Gas.



Your selected FR clothing should be comfortable to wear (cool, lightweight, moisture-wicking, breathable, fit properly) so it doesn’t interfere with job performance or cause additional safety concerns.



To avoid discomfort, FR clothing should be made from fabrics that provide moisture control, with sweat-wicking and fast-drying properties.



Your FR clothing should retain its size, shape and fit with minimal shrinking when laundered.



Your FR clothing should be made with durable fabric that is strong enough to resist tears, rips and holes.



The construction of your FR clothing should be sound, including strong seams and reinforced fabric in high-stress areas.



Your FR garments should not lose their color after laundering.



FR safety regulations are complicated. The company you buy from should offer the tools you need to better understand FR, navigate changing industry standards, build your business, and—above all else—create a culture of compliance.



Is Your FR Program Overlooking Undergarments?

24 Aug

bulwark base layer

When you think about establishing a successful FR clothing program, what “check list” items immediately spring to mind? Generally speaking, the first two mental steps people in this industry take are: 1.) Evaluating the thermal hazard you are providing protection for; and 2.) Selecting the appropriate FR garments for that hazard.

Rightly so.

But for your FR program to be fully effective, you need to look beyond just choosing the right gear for the environment you and your crew are working in. You need to examine every layer closely, beginning with your base layers.

Fact is, an FR clothing program is not fully defined if it does not place restrictions or set guidelines on clothing to be worn under the FR uniform. In the worst circumstances, lack of guidance on base layer clothing can leave an employee at risk for injuries. Consider, for a moment, the extent of an injury that could be sustained by someone wearing a t-shirt made of synthetic fibers under their FR clothing. Sure, the outermost FR layer will self-extinguish in a thermal event. But enough thermal energy could transfer to the t-shirt underneath, causing it to melt to the wearer’s skin.

One simple way to manage this issue is to mandate that all undergarments be made of 100% cotton or other natural fiber. However, this option places the responsibility of choosing compliant clothing squarely on the employee. And, it will require additional “policing” on your behalf.

In our opinion, the most comprehensive approach is for the employer to specify and issue the appropriate FR base layers to be worn under the company’s FR uniforms. By doing so, not only are you taking the choice of undergarments out of the hands of your employees, and the questions of whether or not they have the right fiber content against their skin out of the equation. You will also be providing a second layer of FR protection should they inadvertently leave a shirt unbuttoned or untucked in a moment of complacency. (A layer that, believe it or not, can also provide greater comfort; most FR undergarments pull sweat away from the body to help keep workers cool and dry.)

In the case of protection against electric arc exposure, only FR layers can contribute to a composite ATPV rating, so issuing an FR base layer to be worn under an FR shirt may increase ATPV and possibly increase protection.

So, there you have it. Your base layer basics, compliments of the world’s #1 FR brand. Next time you’re evaluating your FR program, please keep these tips top of mind. And don’t let your undergarments become an oversight.

Click here to view our base layers.

How To Beat The Heat Hazard

7 Aug

The standards say you need to dress for total body flame-resistant coverage. The catch? Total body coverage, in FR, can become insufferable – especially come summertime. As the world’s #1 FR education resource, Bulwark is here with a simple infographic to help you reinforce what to do, and how to dress, to remain cool, comfortable AND compliant when working in the midday sun.

beat the heat- topbeat the heat bottom

Heat Stress: By The Basics, And The Base Layers.

27 Jul


“How do I help my guys stay cool in the hot summer months?” That may be the #1 question we at Bulwark receive this time of year, every year. The world’s #1 FR brand is here to help guide you with some cold, hard facts.


    1. Remember the 3 Rs: Rehydrate, Rest and Recognize
      Drink cool water often and before you feel thirsty.
      Take breaks in shaded/air-conditioned areas:
      Especially when daytime temps are at their peak.
      Shorter, more frequent work/rest cycles are best.
      Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others; and report concerns immediately.

    3. NEVER Cheat In The Heat
      Keep shirts buttoned, sleeves rolled down, and tucked in.
      FR clothing can only protect you if worn properly.

    5. The Right Base Layers Boost Comfort
      – Wicking base layers move perspiration from the skin outward, to allow for faster evaporation, and constant comfort.
      – An FR base layer adds protection and might even allow for the use of a lighter weight shirt without sacrificing ATPV/ Protection.
      – ALWAYS select a base layer that is flame resistant or at least 100% cotton


    Spray Safe: The Rules For Insect Repellent And FR Clothing

    29 Apr

    Spray Safe

    With every new bug season, come swarms of new questions as to how to properly use insect repellent while wearing FR garments. Here are Bulwark’s “do and don’t” details. Make that, DEETails.

    DEET is the active ingredient in many well known, and often used, insect repellents (liquids, lotions, sprays, wristbands, etc.). It is used to ward off biting pests such as mosquitoes and ticks – insects that may or may not be carrying far peskier diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.

    The problem for those who work where there are arc flash and flash fire hazards? DEET is HIGHLY flammable. Any flame resistant clothing sprayed with it has the potential to ignite and continue to burn if exposed to an ignition hazard.  Your guys don’t need that kind of fuel source.

    Bulwark’s best advice: Do NOT put DEET on your FR clothing.  Ever. So stay, and spray, safe as warm weather approaches.

    OSHA Revises 1910.269 Compliance Dates

    25 Mar


    In April of 2014, OSHA revised CFR 1910.269 mandating that certain employers must provide their employees with protective clothing that will not melt, drip, or ignite and that will not contribute to injury. Given the challenges the market is having adapting to this sizable regulatory shift, OSHA has released new 2015 compliance milestones.

    Even though OSHA is being sensitive to the challenge the market is experiencing by extending the compliance dates, we at Bulwark are still fielding a number of questions from our customers. Please reach out to your Bulwark representative with any questions you may have. In the meantime, here are answers to our most common 1910.269 inquiries


    1910.269 FAQs

    Will I be able to comply with the new law by layering FR garments? Yes, layering is allowed and is one way to achieve an arc rating greater than or equal to the incident energy that a worker could possibly be exposed to.
    NOTE: The total arc rating of a layered clothing system must be arc tested as a composite; simply adding the arc ratings of separate clothing layers is not enough. Bulwark has one of the largest databases of outer layers over base layers.  Click here to view our Layering Summary

    How do I know I am specifying the right clothing for my employees? If clothing is labeled as meeting the requirements of ASTM F1506-10a (or ASTM F 1891 for rainwear) and has an arc rating sufficient to protect against the incident energies identified in your hazard/risk assessment, you can feel confident about your selection.

    Do the changes in OSHA 1910.269 include jackets and rainwear? Yes. The final rule requires that the outermost layer of clothing be flame resistant/arc rated. Compliant jackets/outerwear must meet the requirements of ASTM F1506-10a; compliant rainwear must meet the requirements of ASTM F1891.

    Do the changes in the regulation affect my contractors? All requirements mandated by the revised OSHA 1910.269 regulation apply to contractors who must wear PPE that meets the level of performance indicated by the results of the host employer’s hazard/risk assessment.

    My linemen are in FR shirts and non-FR jeans now. What do we need to do to comply with the new law?  Non-flame resistant/non-arc rated pants are no longer acceptable under the new regulation, even if they are made of heavy weight natural (non-melting) fibers. Workers are now required to wear flame resistant/arc-rated clothing – which should cover the entire body.

    Is it possible that I won’t have to make any changes in my FR clothing program? Yes, if an organization has already completed a hazard/risk assessment and has outfitted its employees in flame resistant clothing with an arc rating greater than or equal to the incident energy identified in your assessment, you may not need to make any changes.

    OSHA 1910.269: Are You         Regulation Ready?

    19 Jan


    It’s a New Year. And with it comes a new update to two OSHA regulations that experts say will save nearly 20 lives, prevent 118 serious injuries, and result in monetized benefits of $179 million annually: 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart V.

    As the world leader in flame resistant apparel, training and education, Bulwark is here to help you drive compliance – by offering a little clarification. Here are the basics of this seismic regulatory shift:

    • The final rule was published in the Federal Register on
      April 11, 2014.
    • The updated standards for general industry and construction include new or revised provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and with employees, as well as for improved fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures.
    • In addition, the standards adopt revised approach-distance requirements to better ensure that unprotected workers do not get dangerously close to energized lines and equipment. The final rule also adds new requirements to protect workers from electric arcs.
    • The new provisions for protection from electric arcs include new requirements for the employer to
      • Assess the workplace to identify employees exposed to hazards from flames and from electric arcs
      • Make reasonable estimates of the incident heat energy to which the employee would be exposed
      • Ensure that the outer layer of clothing worn by employees is flame resistant under certain conditions
      • Generally ensure that employees exposed to hazards from electric arcs wear protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating greater than or equal to the estimated heat energy

    Here are a couple of key dates to mark on your calendar for 2015:

    January 1, 2015: Companies regulated by OSHA 1910.269 have to complete a hazard assessment of their electrical equipment.

    April 1, 2015: Employees have to be wearing Arc Rated clothing equivalent to the hazard determined by the hazard assessment completed in January.

    If you still have questions, please contact a Bulwark sales rep by clicking here. Or for more information on this topic, click here to view our Bulwark OSHA 1910.269 Q&A. Feel free to download it so you always have OSHA 1910.269 answers in hand.

    Layering and Undergarments

    18 Nov


    According to NFPA 70E section 130.7 (C) (12) (a), layering of non-melting flammable garments is permitted to be worn under FR garments for added protection. However, the system arc rating of the innermost FR layer must be sufficient to prevent breakopen and ignition of the flammable under layer.

    If Table 130.7 (C) (9) is used to determine the HRC category; only FR layers within the layered system are used to determine system arc rating. Arc ratings of individual layers cannot simply be added together. Any garment worn as the outer layer, including rainwear, must be FR.

    Meltable fibers such as acetate, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex cannot be used in under layers next to the skin the only exception being an incidental amount of elastic is permitted in socks and underwear.

    Because of changes to the 2009 Edition of NFPA 70E, we can no longer advise our customers to simply add individual single layer arc ratings together to arrive at a system arc rating for layered garments. Annex M.3.1 of the 2009 Edition of NFPA 70E states that the total system arc rating cannot be determined by adding the arc ratings of the individual layers. The only way to determine the total system arc rating is to conduct a multilayer arc test on the combination of all the layers assembled, as they would be worn.

    We will work with you to understand the unique needs of your business and answer any questions you may have. Simply call us at 615-565-5307 or click here.

    iQ In The News

    9 Jul

    Back in January, we announced our launch of iQ Series, a revolutionary product line that delivers superior comfort through fabric and design innovation — without compromising the trust and safety of its wearers.  Read the announcement here: The Future Of FR Is Here

    We’ve seen a huge amount of interest and excitement regarding iQ Series. We’ve only scratched the surface. Below is a list of links to all the buzz around town about iQ, the better, smarter, more comfortable FR gear that people will want to wear – and not just while they’re working.”



    OSHA 1910.269 Q&A

    19 Jun

    Got Questions about OSHA 1910.269 and how it pertains to FR/AR Clothing? We’ve got Answers!

    Click the link below to view our Q&A:


    Bulwark OSHA 1910.269 Q&A