Navy sailor uniforms highly flammable

Published On: Jan 11 2013 06:39:08 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 11 2013 09:02:13 AM EST

Navy commanders are responding to tests recently made public that show the standard issue blue fatigues worn by sailors are highly flammable.

Even worse, when the fatigues melt, they don't just burn off -- they stick to the sailors' skin.

Navy brass conducted the tests and found a strip of the new nylon-cotton blend uniform was exposed to a flame for 12 seconds.
The cloth immediately lit up in flames, and continued to burn after the fire source was removed, the report said.

The Navy conducted tests in October on the uniforms known as Type I NWU.
They are half cotton-half nylon and according to the report, the nylon component "is a thermoplastic fiber that melts and drips as it burns."
Rear Adm. John Kirby is the chief of information at the Pentagon and spokesman for the Navy.
In a release made last month, he admits that while the uniforms will "burn robustly until complete consumption," it's not shocking.

"The issue is this. The uniform type one, Navy type one, is not flame resistant. Now we knew this and hopefully you knew this," said Kirby, Chief of Naval Information. "There's been no requirements since 1996, as a matter of fact. Right now there's no change to the fleet requirement for the working uniform at sea. Right now you can continue to wear that uniform. You should continue to wear the uniform appropriately."

Adm. Kirby said the uniform was never meant to be flame-retardant and there is fire gear throughout any ship in case sailors are exposed to flames.
Only sailors with specific jobs such as airmen, engineers or firefighters and those in combat are required to have fire-resistant clothing, Navy admirals said.

An editorial in the Navy Times estimated that it could cost as much as $20 million to gradually phase-in a fire-retardant uniform.


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