OCTOBER 31, 2014, NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) – A message sent out to the fleet by U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) last year introduced the Flame Resistant Variant (FRV) coverall and roll-out plan.
The new FRV boasted a design superior to the Navy Working Uniform Type I and legacy coverall utility uniform in resisting fire and preventing burn injury.
The FRVs were put to the test this month when a Sailor aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) was grinding metal during a project Oct. 21. Friction from the grinding wheel caused sparks of red, hot slag metal to be thrown onto the Sailor’s FRV coveralls.
“I was grinding on a chair foundation for about 15 minutes, when sparks of hot metal landed on my FRV coveralls,” said Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Ryan Davis. “I didn’t notice the hot pieces of metal on my uniform, or how long they were there until the fire watch noticed a small flame coming from my coveralls.”
The fire watch, Sonar Technician 1st Class Thomas Pauli reacted and quickly patted out the flame with his hand. The flame left a hole in Davis’ FRV coveralls about the size of a quarter in his waistline section. Although the hole in Davis’ uniform made it unserviceable, the FRV coveralls performed as designed, and as a result, Davis suffered no burns or injuries.
“It was a quick response from both me and HT3 Davis,” said Pauli. “After assessing what happened, we finished the job without any other problems”.
According to a USFF message sent out to the fleet in October 2013, the FRV coverall is made from a flame resistant-treated, 100 percent cotton fabric using the same design pattern as the existing Navy coverall uniform. The Navy’s clothing and textile research facility has demonstrated the uniform’s ability to protect Sailors from flame or flash fire hazards. A demonstration can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4fuMBwpp7k.
Distribution of the FRV coveralls to the fleet is near completion and ahead of schedule. More than 325,000 FRVs out of 381,000 requisitions have been shipped to commands throughout the Navy with a completion rate of 92.4 percent. Most Sailors already have the FRVs and have been issued two sets by their commands. Sailors shall wear the FRV coveralls until they are worn, damaged, or no longer serviceable.
Sailors are reminded that paint, oils, and other chemicals may compromise fire resistant performance. If the FRV becomes soiled, torn, or prematurely worn out, Sailors should turn in the unserviceable FRV immediately and be issued a new set. As organizational clothing, commands maintain stocks of FRVs to support replacement as required.
The Navy provides organizational clothing to watch standers and Sailors who work at sea and ashore who need extra protection against fire hazards in environments such as the engineering spaces, on the flight deck, and who are a part of damage control teams. Due to the environment in which the Navy operates, the FRV coverall represents progress toward making shipboard environments safer.
Although the FRVs were not designed to replace or serve as a fire fighting ensemble for battling a major shipboard fire, when worn properly with appropriate battle dress items (flash hood, gloves, pant legs tucked in, top buttoned, sleeves rolled down and buttoned, and steel toed leather boots), the FRV gives Sailors a first line of defense from burn injuries by offering significant resistance from flame and flash fire.