Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Navy knew its uniforms were flammable when the clothing was designed, according to Navy spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. Kirby told the Virginian-Pilot the standard-issue blue camouflage uniforms aren't flame-resistant, and that came as no surprise to the Navy:
"When we were making the uniform, sailors wanted a uniform that was comfortable, that didn't require maintenance and would stand up under a lot of washing, and one of the ways to get that is a nylon-cotton blend. We realize that nylon does not react well to flame, but again, there was no requirement for a fire-resistant uniform in a working environment."
The Navy made public last month video of a test it conducted that showed the uniform's material burned and melted quickly when exposed to fire. I've posted that video up top.
"[The material] melts and drips as it burns... If this sticky molten material came in contact with skin it would contribute to increased burn injury…”
In response to the test being made public, the head of Fleet Forces Command, Adm. Bill Gortney, sent a message to all commanders that read, in part:
“Informed by this impromptu test and in coordination with the uniform board, [Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Cecil Haney] and I will continue to review the requirements for — and flame resistant qualities of — working uniforms, including the Type 1 NWUs. We will explore long-term solutions that afford our sailors the right protective clothing, aligned with the tasks they are required to perform in various operating environments.”
Still, Rear Adm. Kirby insisted to the Virginian-Pilot that the Navy has not been hiding the information about the working uniforms' flammability to sailors:
"What I really bristled at was the charge that we somehow have been misleading sailors. We have been routinely training sailors to this issue when they go off to school, to basic shipboard training."