Fire-Retardant Military Uniforms: Aiming to Keep Soldiers Safe

burning fire flame on the black background

(DGIwire) – Soldiers face an extraordinary array of dangers. One particular risk involves their military uniforms: just how safe are they when coming in contact with fire? Technological advances have made it feasible to incorporate an array of flame-retardant chemistries into uniforms, enhancing the protection of armed forces in the field.

According to a U.S. Army press release, there are two current battle uniforms worn by troops: the Army Combat Uniform and its flame-retardant variant, the Flame-Resistant Army Combat Uniform. In most cases, the uniforms that are treated are the ones worn in combat. However, according to Nick Clark, CEO of Alexium International, a specialty chemicals manufacturer, these uniforms may incorporate a toxic chemistry called halogen-based bromide, which has been shown to pose certain environmental risks.

Clark has a unique perspective into the needs of the military: before he became a business leader, he was a soldier, serving in the Defence Force of his native Australia and later on assignment in Cambodia as a U.N. Peacekeeper.

“It is possible to manufacture a FR chemistry that can be applied to military uniforms and is environmentally friendly,” Clark says. “The military has been increasingly receptive to working with companies to ensure its troops are wearing uniforms that are as safe as possible.”

Beginning in 2009, Alexium has been working with defense agencies to safeguard military personnel around the world. Chief among its chemistries is Alexiflam FR, developed to provide a durable and ecofriendly solution for the nylon-cotton uniforms worn by the military. Alexiflam FR is a flame retardant for synthetic and synthetic-blend fabrics that is applied via aqueous solutions. Halogen-free and phosphorus-based, it can offer an affordable, effective and practical add-on FR solution.

Applied via standard textile equipment, Alexiflam NR is compatible with a range of fabric constructions, weights, camouflage prints and finishes. It is compliant with the standards of the Toxic Substances Control Act in the U.S. as well as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation in the European Union.

“We owe it to our men and women in uniform to ensure their safety in every possible respect, and flame-retardant, ecologically friendly uniforms ought to be an integral part of the mix,” adds Clark.

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