Note: We cover this topic in a more recent post: Which Standards Should My AR / FR Rainwear Pass?
Shopping for arc-rated and flame resistant (AR/FR) rainwear? Take a VERY close look at the label.
Some rainwear sold on the market as flame resistant is tested and labeled to comply with ASTM D6413, Standard Test Method for Flame Resistance of Textiles (the “vertical flame test”).
However, if you or your workers will be wearing the rainwear for protection from arc flash or flash fire, compliance solely with ASTM D6413 is not a true indicator of sufficient protection.
But wait, isn’t ASTM D6413 the industry standard for determining flame resistance? Why isn’t compliance to ASTM D6413 enough for rainwear? While ASTM D6413 is an excellent test method when used as intended – to determine flame resistance of traditional textiles – it’s not appropriate for specialized fabrics like rainwear. This is because plastic or rubber-type fabrics like those typically used for rainwear tend to shrink away from the vertical flame central to the D6413 test – reducing exposure to the flame in the manner the D6413 test method intended.
That’s why ASTM D6413 has been superseded by standards designed specifically for rainwear – ASTM F1891 for electric arc protective rainwear and ASTM F2733 for rainwear intended to protect against flash fire. These next-generation rainwear-specific standards include both the D6413 vertical flame test AND either the arc rating test for arc flash rainwear, or the “manikin test” for flash fire rainwear. Watch Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical, explain in this short video.
By purchasing rainwear that has been tested in the hazard conditions they’re expected to protect against, you can be sure they perform as intended.
Need to see it for yourself to believe it?
You don’t have to simply take our word for it! We recently put these standards to the test as part of a LIVE arc flash demonstration at an independent laboratory in Chalfont, PA.
Let’s take a look at the consequences – the rainwear in this first exposure complies with ASTM D6413:
As we have seen in the arc exposure, the rainwear breaks open, catches fire, melts, and then throws molten polymer around the jobsite – resulting in major burn injury for the wearer. This is certainly not the outcome we would expect when wearing rainwear we think is flame resistant.
ASTM F1891, Standard Specification for Arc and Flame Resistant Rainwear, on the other hand, establishes several physical requirements for arc-protective rainwear and establishes minimum criteria – with appropriate test methods, including but not limited to ASTM D6413 – for thermal performance for rainwear used to protect workers from momentary exposures to arc flashes or flame.
Comparatively, the manikin in this arc exposure is wearing rainwear that complies with ASTM F1891:
As the smoke clears, you can tell that the ASTM F1891 rain suit is entirely intact – no melting, dripping, or ignition. The garment has done its job and protected the wearer – a much different outcome from the rainwear tested only to ASTM D6413.
Does your work environment have a flash fire – rather than an arc flash – hazard? You’re in luck: we have also conducted live demonstrations comparing rainwear labeled ASTM D6413 to rainwear that meets the standard specifically for flash fire rainwear, ASTM F2733 Standard Specification for Flame Resistant Rainwear for Protection Against Flame Hazards. Click here to see for yourself.
When it comes to buying rainwear, remember: ASTM D6413 was never intended for rainwear materials. These videos clearly demonstrate why it’s critically important to select rainwear tested to the standard specific to your hazard.
Need assistance finding quality rainwear that meets the right standard? We’re here to help! We offer a complete selection of compliant rainwear, and you can even establish a separate allowance or allotment program for approved rainwear. Reach out to a National Account Executive serving your area to get started today.