Category: Products

How Fire-Retardant (FR) Elastics and Proper Testing Help the Firefighting Industry

For Firefighters, having the right gear is paramount to ensuring their safety while protecting citizens from dangerous fires. Fire equipment involves many different elements – Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs), helmets, suspenders, goggles, boots, gloves, pants, and jackets are just a few of the critical pieces needed for firefighters to safely do their job. 

What often is not considered are the components needed to make some of these products. Fire Retardant or also called Fire Resistant (FR) elastics are one small part that literally holds certain pieces of gear together. For example, FR elastics are used and relied on heavily in the design of SCBA facepieces. Concerns arise when considering the possible damage of elastics hitting high temperatures and the potential to melt or drip, therefore a FR NFPA tested product is crucial.

Using fibers such as Nomex®, and blends of PBI®/Kevlar®, the FR elastics will not melt or drip in high heat due to the yarn’s inherent characteristics. Adopting a unique weaving process as well will ensure the elastic will not become wavy due to shrinking and will retain its stretch properties after heat exposure. Fire gear can be expensive and designing individual attributes like elastic to withstand multiple wears and various temperatures is unique and necessary.

FR elastics from Sturges Manufacturing come with many unique characteristics. When elastics are woven, monitoring tensions throughout the manufacturing process is necessary to ensure that the stretch is consistent. This allows the elastic to lay flat and prevents it from having a “ribbon effect,” or circular effect which makes it easier for a manufacturer to sew. Like many other performance webbings at Sturges, the elastics also go through a rigorous testing process all done on-site. All Sturges-made FR elastics have been sent to the Underwriters Laboratory to be UL Component Recognized to the NFPA 1971-2018 Standard for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. This third-party validation means the manufacturer is not required to pay for heat and flame tests as these components have been independently tested and verified. 

In addition to the annual UL testing, Sturges performs vertical flame tests and records extinguish time as well as the char length (product must extinguish within two seconds and char length must be less than 4 inches). Heat tests are also performed in a 500º F oven — to pass, FR elastics must have 10% or less shrinkage and no evidence of melting, ignition, or separation. Testing is performed on five samples each for both laundered and non-laundered conditions to ensure the longevity of the elastic. Each lot of FR elastic is also stretch tested in accordance with ASTM D4964. A certificate of compliance accompanies each shipment defining the specifications and results as well

FR elastics are a critical component of many pieces of fire gear. They ensure not only the safety of firefighters but also the longevity and reliability of their equipment.

Have questions about FR elastics? Looking to quote fire-safe elastics for SCBA facepieces, masks, suspenders, goggles, or keepers for webbing tails? Contact us to request a quote here.

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Benefits & Features of Leading Edge Webbing

In the Fall Protection industry, few things are as important and highly prioritized as safety at height. Whether working on a telephone pole or a roof many stories above the ground, creating a safe environment for the worker is crucial.

In order to meet the unique needs of the industry, Leading Edge Self Retracting Lifelines (SRLs) were developed. Traditionally, these SRLs have been designed with heavy steel cables to protect a worker from a fall over a sharp edge. With the latest development in performance webbings, there is now a lightweight alternative to the steel cable SRL.

What does it mean for webbing and SRLs to be “Leading Edge”?

Per OSHA 1926.751, Leading Edge is defined as “the unprotected side and edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or other walking/working surface (such as a deck).” These unprotected edges leave workers suspended above them in a potentially precarious position. 

The presence of this edge creates an additional hazard — if someone falls and their SRL hits this unprotected edge, the combination of velocity, weight, and the sharpness of the corner is likely to snap a standard SRL not rated for leading-edge applications.

What does the process for developing Leading Edge webbing entail?

In the initial design phase at Sturges Manufacturing, testing goes beyond the requirements of the ASSP/ANSI Z359.14 in several key ways. Samples are abraded per FED STD 191A, Method 5309 and then dropped 6’5” using the ASSP/ANSI Z359.14 requirement with a 310 lb test mass and tested in a fixed position without an SRL.  After the dynamic test is complete in both the off-set and perpendicular position and the weight has been held for 2 minutes, the weight is pushed again to swing more on the edge for 5 additional minutes in multiple directions to ensure it can withstand the increased exposure over time. Once the sample is removed from the leading-edge test tower, it is then tested statically to verify the strength exceeds 1,000 lbs.   

Sturges is able to design prototypes and test them in-house in its state-of-the-art, ISO 17025 testing facility. The ability to test in-house also allows Sturges to provide a pre-tested product to clients during new product development saving time and increasing their speed to market.

While Sturges is focused on convenience for the customer, their own process remains detailed and custom — Sturges does not use another customer’s in-house results to market to other customers. Each prototype is unique and receives its own test data.

With safety being first, Sturges doesn’t only test during the design stage, but regularly during production as well. Dynamic testing is performed daily with each production run and monitored through SPC, to ensure a quality webbing that can be depended on.

Can Leading Edge Webbing be branded?

Leading Edge webbing can be customized to include custom colors and patterns. Sturges Manufacturing’s design and engineering teams work with customers to develop webbing that functions as intended and incorporates necessary branding.

Learn more about Leading Edge webbing and request a quote here.