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Two boards to gauge uniform fire risks

Jan. 11, 2013 - 07:10PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 11, 2013 - 07:10PM  |  
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Two boards will review the fleet's shipboard uniforms over the next few weeks to assess whether the current policy, which requires only some sailors to wear flame-resistant apparel, adequately addresses the risks of fire that sailors face.

One of the panels will assess the at-sea requirements for working uniforms based on the disclosure of a recent Navy test that found the blue-and-gray Navy Working Uniform will "burn robustly" and "melt" when exposed to flame.

Fleet Forces Command and the Pacific Fleet "are reviewing the requirements for, and flame-resistant qualities of, various working uniforms to include Type I NWUs," the four-star fleet commanders said in a joint naval message released Jan. 11.

They tasked one board to review the fleet's organizational clothing, such as flight suits and engineering coveralls — both flame-resistant uniforms worn only by those in specific ratings and workspaces more prone to fire hazards. The review will be expansive, officials said.

This board, headed by Rear Adm. Rick Berkey, will examine where organizational clothing should be worn, who should wear it and whether all of it should be flame-resistant.

Their findings will inform the second board, which is revisiting the Navy's decision in 1996 to no longer require flame-resistant uniforms at sea.

"We will determine the level of protection our sailors need, given the missions and tasks we expect them to execute in their respective work environments," said Adm. Bill Gortney, the head of Fleet Forces Command, in a Jan. 11 statement.

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