You may have heard about “component recognition” or wondered about supplying or purchasing certified components compliant to NFPA 2112. Below are some common questions regarding components and certification and answers on how to navigate the waters.
Q: What does component certification mean? What about component recognition? What’s the difference?
For NFPA 2112, components refer to materials used to create a garment. For example, fabric, zippers, snaps, and thread. Component certification may be obtained by the suppliers of specific products. For example, 100% FR Cotton Twill Style 1234 manufactured by ABC Manufacturing Co. may be submitted to an ISO 17065 accredited certification body (either SEI or UL) for testing and certification for all relevant fabric tests. Once the component has been certified, component recognition kicks in for the garment manufacturer opting to use the certified component (Fabric Style 1234)—meaning they do not need to retest the component again and the certification will be recognized towards the garment certification. When ABC Manufacturing Co. sells their material to garment manufacturers, they are selling a component that has already been certified ahead of time. This also means that ABC Manufacturing Co. owns the data for their certified component (the fabric), and they can provide this certification to any garment manufacturer they sell to. There is one small catch: if you are a component supplier, you may want to make sure the data will be accepted by the garment manufacturer’s certification body if the garment manufacturer plans to ask the certification body to recognize your certified component. Not all certification bodies accept data from one another. Garment manufacturers have the freedom to choose the certification body that works best for them from a time, cost, and relationship standpoint, but component suppliers need to be aware of this hurdle to avoid retesting costs.
Q: How can I tell if the components I want to use to make my garment are NFPA 2112 Certified?
Your supplier should be able to tell you if they have gone through the certification process, and the ISO 17065 body’s component mark should be on the product. The materials you purchase, and the level of their testing and certification, is always upon agreement between you and your supplier.
Maybe you’d prefer to use fabric that has already been certified so that the component can be recognized and your garment certification is simpler and less expensive. Or, maybe you’re ok with a simple test report showing the fabric complies through testing by a third-party laboratory for your own knowledge upon purchase, but you’d prefer to have the component officially tested and certified with your garment so that you can own the data.
If you’re looking for a previously certified fabric and you want to verify that it has been certified (not just tested, but certified in accordance with the requirements NFPA 2112), you can check the online directories. ISO 17065 bodies, like SEI and UL, maintain online directories listing certified products; you can find the SEI directory here. Again, understand that not all certification bodies will recognize each other’s components or certifications. The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), ISO 17065 accredited for NFPA 2112, will accept certification data and recognize all components that were certified by an ISO 17065 body.
Q: I have a third-party test report saying my fabric complies with NFPA 2112—is this good enough to call my garment compliant?
A: No. It can tell you that the fabric will likely pass testing performed at the direction of the certification body, but both garments and components must be certified (which includes testing and audits) to NFPA 2112 through an ISO 17065 body. The components (fabric, zippers, etc.) can be certified by the suppliers or by the garment manufacturer. If the fabric or other components are already certified, the process is simplified for the garment manufacturer as the components can be recognized towards certification (if the cert body will accept them); however, certification at the garment level must also be achieved.
A third-party test report alone is not enough to label compliance with NFPA 2112. Some component manufacturers get third party testing simply to assure those purchasing the materials to make garments for certification that they do meet the testing requirements given in NFPA 2112. Some obtain the data to have for research and development purposes to make sure the material will meet test requirements before submitting it to a certification body. There are many reasons why one may want only a test report, but understand that full certification is required to label compliance with NFPA 2112. Who obtains the certification on components is to be decided by the garment manufacturer and their suppliers.
Q: I need to get my garments certified to NFPA 2112. The fabric has already been certified and the certificate was provided by the fabric supplier. I also double checked the online directory and found the product listed as proof. Do I have to test it again?
A: It depends on where the fabric was certified and if your certification body will recognize components and accept data from other certification bodies. While the component is certified and theoretically wouldn’t need to be retested by the garment manufacturer, the reality is that not all certification bodies accept data from one another. As a garment manufacturer, you have the flexibility to use any ISO 17065 certified body for your garment certification (either SEI or UL).
If you’re not sure, work with your certification bodies and ask the question about your components and if they will be accepted towards a garment certification.
ArcWear works with the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) to issue a third-party certification to NFPA 2112 to garment manufacturers through our FlashCert Services. If you have questions about this article or the process, contact us.