Part II - The Upcoming New Look of Bunker Gear
In Part II of his column on the revised NFPA 1971 standards, Jeff Stull examines the changes to standards for gloves, hoods and footwear.
Gloves must now extend a total of 2 inches beyond the wrist crease whether with a gauntlet or wristlet, representing an additional 1 inch of glove coverage from the existing standard. Two additional glove sizes have been added (XX-Small and XX-Large) to accommodate a wide range of hand dimensions. The conductive heat resistance test applied to gloves will be conducted at an elevated pressure (2 psi versus 0.5 psi) on the glove back and finger composite materials. This change will affect the thickness of insulation on the back side of the gloves without affecting the palm side, which has a greater impact on glove dexterity. A new test has been added to measure the liner retention in gloves. The previous test is maintained as a donning ease test after the gloves have been laundered. The new test measures the force required to separate the liner from the glove interior and will prevent separation of liners from glove shells.
The measured height of footwear must be a minimum of 10 inches (compared to 8 inches in the existing edition). This height is measured from the interior of the boot — with the insole in place — to the lowest point of the boot where waterproof performance is provided; the measurement does not allow for stitched-through pull tabs and other features on leather boots, which could cause an area of water penetration. The overall effect of the new height requirement and measurement technique adds several inches to the total footwear height when measured from ground level; some footwear styles may increase up to 4 inches in height in order to comply with these requirements. The implementation of this requirement will eliminate several footwear styles from the marketplace and have a dramatic effect on the design and availability of lace-up footwear. The puncture resistance plate used in the sole of footwear to prevent nail puncture will now be subjected to a flex cracking test to assess its durability, consistent with other industry footwear standards.
Hoods are required to cover the top of the head where the helmet is positioned; however, thermal protective performance (TPP) testing applies only to the sides and neck areas of the hood. Hood cleaning shrinkage will now be measured for the entire hood, rather than the material only as is done in the current edition. This change in the testing approach may permit other types of materials to be used in hoods that have previously shown relatively high levels of cleaning shrinkage.
As currently scheduled, the new NFPA standard will become effective in August 2006 barring any appeals or complaints. The standard permits a grace period for the certification of gear to the old edition (2000) through February 2007. After February 2007, all new, manufactured gear will have to meet the new 2006 edition. An update on the progress towards industry implementation of the revised NFPA 1971 will be provided in a future article.