When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) for individuals working in hazardous environments, the importance of arc-rated and flame resistant (AR/FR) clothing cannot be overstated. These specialized garments are designed to protect wearers from arc flash and flash fire hazards encountered in utility, oil and gas, and other industries. Before these garments reach the market, they undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet strict safety standards.
Tyndale takes testing a step further by conducting independent AR/FR clothing research at leading testing sites and laboratories to better understand real-world hazards and PPE performance. Videos of these simulations are available in Tyndale’s Video Library for training purposes.
In this blog, we explore three renowned facilities where we conduct our arc flash and flash fire testing: Texas A&M's Brayton TEEX Fire Training Field facility in College Station, Texas; KEMA's Low, Medium, and High Voltage Laboratory in Chalfont, PA; and Kinectrics in Toronto, Ontario.
Texas A&M's Brayton TEEX Fire Training Field Facility - College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University's Brayton TEEX Fire Training Field facility is part of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and serves as a hub for research, training, and testing related to firefighting and industrial safety.
At TEEX, flame resistant clothing undergoes a series of intense fire tests. These tests include exposure to open flames replicating what workers would encounter in the case of a flash fire. Manikins are outfitted with various combinations of garments to assess the clothing’s ability to resist ignition and protect the worker against thermal hazards.
The facility's state-of-the-art equipment and controlled testing environments make it an ideal location to educate the businesses we serve about the importance of wearing FR clothing to protect against flash fire hazards.
KEMA Low, Medium, and High Voltage Laboratory - Chalfont, PA
KEMA Labs specializes in testing electrical equipment and protective measures, making it an essential destination for evaluating the flame-resistant properties of protective clothing used in the electrical industry.
In KEMA’s high-voltage testing area, manikins are outfitted with various combinations of garments to test the clothing’s ability to prevent burns and injuries during electrical accidents. Cutting-edge equipment allows for alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) arc flash simulations:
- In AC electrical arcs, the direction of the current constantly changes, resulting in the arc repeatedly extinguishing and reigniting during each cycle. AC arc hazards are faced by utility workers while working on power lines or in substations, or by commercial and industrial electricians while working on or near energized industrial electrical equipment.
- DC electrical arcs are different than AC arcs in that they are “on” throughout the arc, while AC current alternates between “on” and “off.” DC arcs can occur in various contexts, including in electric vehicles (EV) manufacturing and EV charging infrastructure, electrical power systems, industrial settings, renewable energy systems, battery systems, and others.
Kinectrics - Toronto, Ontario
In Toronto, Ontario, Kinectrics operates a state-of-the-art testing facility that specializes in various aspects of electrical power and energy, including the evaluation of arc-rated and flame resistant (AR/FR) clothing. This facility is committed to advancing safety in the electrical and nuclear industries.
Kinectrics offers a range of tests designed to assess the protective capabilities of flame resistant garments under different scenarios. The tests Tyndale typically perform at Kinectrics include:
- Fabric testing using arc electrodes enclosed within a modified Faraday “cage” (as described in our video). Prepared fabric swatches are exposed to electric arcs commonly encountered by workers in the electrical sector. The results are plotted on a graph to determine the arc rating of the fabric.
- Garment testing to evaluate performance in an arc flash exposure. Clothed manikins are exposed to an arc flash at or above the approximate arc rating of the material, and the fabric is assessed for breakopen, melting, dripping, and shrinkage.
One of the unique aspects of Kinectrics is its focus on research and innovation. This, along with their location in Toronto, aligns with Tyndale’s commitment to partner with Canadian companies seeking a protective apparel program compliant with North American safety standards.
Through rigorous testing and research at these renowned facilities, our understanding of the performance of arc-rated and flame resistant clothing is heightened. This, in turn, allows us to educate the businesses we serve and continue to offer enhanced protection and comfort for workers in high-risk environments. As technology and safety standards advance, Tyndale’s access to these facilities positions us at the forefront of ensuring that protective clothing meets evolving industrial needs – safeguarding workers' lives and well-being.