Navy Times is reporting the Navy is issuing new “flame proof” coveralls for use underway. Now will the Coast Guard follow suite?
“For the fleet’s top boss, this is personal. Gortney remembers being a lieutenant junior grade aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz on the night in 1981 when a Prowler crashed into the flight deck, unleashing a fuel fire that cooked off bombs in a terrifying maelstrom. By the time it was extinguished two hours later, 14 people were dead, including the aircrew and first responders.
“’It kind of shapes you for the rest of your life: 50 sailors injured and we lost 14,’ Gortney recalled. ‘Discovered that night that if you’re going to have a major conflag[ration], there’s three things that occur: You’re either running to fight the fire, you’re trying to evade the fire or you’re trying to aid a shipmate in need. And you do that wearing what you got on.’
“’And so we have about one and a half major conflags a year, believe it or not, for the last 30 years,’ Gortney continued, defining this as a fire that exceeds the capability of the initial responders. ‘So it’s important that we put our sailors in outfits that they’re able to be the first person on the scene to deal with the fire that’s there.’
“Gortney said that’s what the new coveralls are designed to do. Their fabric is 100 percent cotton treated with flame-resistant coating, a combination that self-extinguishes and can protect its wearer’s skin from a blaze.”
Unfortunately, it seems the need for flame resistant clothing is a lesson that needs to be learned over and over again.