Marines will soon be issued new fire-resistant utility blouses and pants made from material twice as durable as what they currently use.
The uniform pieces, part of the Corps' Enhance Fire Resistant Combat Ensemble, are made with a new flame-resistant material designed to allow the uniform to self-extinguish if it comes into contact with fire. While the fabric is just as durable as the treated material that is currently used, it lasts longer, according to officials with Marine Corps Systems Command. The fabric, officials said, is a blend of cotton, nylon, and meta-aramid, a material resistant to high heat and chemical degradation.
Meta-aramid is the material used in NOMEX, the Dupont-made flame-resistant material used in many firefighters' uniforms.
In addition to durability, the EFRCE combat shirt was also slightly redesigned so it fit more easily under the more recent generation of Marine Corps plate carrier body armor, officials said.
The new gear is the result of a lengthy search. The Marine Corps first issued a pre-solicitation for the uniform items in desert, woodland and coyote patterns and colors in early 2014. Since the Marine Corps collaborated with the Navy to create the new uniform updates, they will also be manufactured in Navy Working Uniform Type II and Type III desert and woodland patterns.
Along with a balaclava, gloves, and an inclement weather combat shirt, uniform items make up the Marine Corps' Flame Resistant Organization Gear system, also know as the FROG suit.
While the blouses and pants will be added to existing Marine Corps inventory by the end of this fiscal year and issued to Marines after the current supplies run out, sailors will receive them as they deploy. Troops assigned to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and Naval Special Warfare Command will receive the new gear before deployments, officials with SYSCOM said. Ultimately, some 70,000 sets of flame-resistant uniforms are planned for production.