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There are a plethora of test methods for assessing the flammability of flame resistant fabric materials. However, there is no suitable test method to assess the relative levels of protection provided by flame resistant clothing materials to personnel who may be subjected to the effects of an ignition in an oxygen system or equipment. BOC Limited has developed a flame penetration test which simulates the severe conditions that exist during an ignition event in oxygen. The test has been used to rank candidate materials in order of their resistance to flame and metal impingement.
The test is comparatively simple. The test apparatus consists of a horizontally mounted oxygen-acetylene welding torch. The torch is mounted in front of the textile specimen which is vertically mounted in a metal frame. Between the specimen and torch is a sheet of mild steel which is used to provide molten metal splashes. Several flame retardant materials were evaluated by the test including FirotexR, NomexR, PanotexR, FlamretR, KermelR, and ProbanR. ProbanR had the highest ranking in the test. Other parameters evaluated were the effect of washing the material and ageing of the material to assess their effects on test results. Further development of the test method will be undertaken in particular on repeatability and reproducibility of results.
Protective clothing, ranking materials, oxygen ignition, flame resistant fabrics, flame penetration, test method, flammability, oxygen compatibility
Chief Analyst, BOC Limited, London,
Senior Safety Adviser, BOC Limited, Priestley Centre, Guildford, Surrey