When Should We Test Our 40 Cal Arc Flash Suit?

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When Should We Test Our 40 Cal Arc Flash Suit?

Q: What is the recommended testing cycle for a 40-cal arc flash suit?

I have a technician requesting the testing schedule of 40-cal suits. Are there required tests for arc flash suits in ASTM F1506, ASTM F2178, OSHA or NFPA 70E?

A: There are none.

Arc flash suits do not provide any shock protection. Shock protective gear (rubber insulating gloves, blankets, sleeves, hotsticks, etc) require periodic, non-destructive testing. Arc flash testing is destructive and, therefore, not required.

However, manufacturers typically recommend the following:

  1. Keep your arc flash suits clean and free of hydrocarbon build up (oil, grease and even grain dust). Launder according to manufacturer’s recommendations or dry clean if manufacturer allows.
  2. Replace the suit every 10 years (this is common for firefighter’s turnout gear and is a good idea).
  3. Replace the face shield every 5 years.  If the face shield becomes badly scratched or discolored, replace it immediately.
  4. Develop a procedure to evaluate garments for flame resistance if they are laundered frequently. Typically this does not occur with flash suits, but it does with uniforms. Some companies pull random garments from their uniforms and have them destructively flame-tested to assure washing procedures are being properly followed. This is typically done as part of an arc flash garment audit (like those done by ArcWear) and can be built into your company’s uniform care procedure. It is necessary only in companies which have unusual contaminants like oils and heavy metals. Those may require special cleaning techniques.

We have seen no garment failures which resulted in worker injury. Laundering and proper care assure this will always be the case.

Extra reading:

For more on suits worn in enclosed spaces, read Fire Fighting Help for Arc Flash and Fires in Underground Vaults.

Have a question about electrical safety and standards?   

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sid Chakrabarti

    • Arc Rating, ATPV = 26 cal/cm² = class 3 (out of 4 which is the highest)
    • Material Break-open, Ebt = 27 cal/cm²
    • Heat Attenuation Factor, HAF = 91%
    How do you rate this fabric

    1. Hugh Hoagland

      This would be a 26 cal/cm² Arc Rating. The lowest of ATPV and EBT is chosen. HAF is finally going away and doesn’t really mean anything.

      Hope this helps,

      Hugh Hoagland

  2. Fernando Resendiz

    Does the above answer still apply to the question for todays standards?

    1. Kenneth Sellars

      Yes. There are still no testing requirements for arc flash PPE. The article is still applicable as written, unlike insulated rubber goods, which do require testing.

  3. John Braun

    We use a 40cal suit 10-15 times per year. How often should it be replaced?

    I did read “Replace the suit every 10 years (this is common for firefighter’s turnout gear and is a good idea).” However, they put their suit on a lot more than we do.

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