The question: “Are You Using FM Approved Fabrics in Your Facility?” That's the title of a free CD from Auburn Manufacturing Inc., Mechanic Falls, Maine. The maker of textile products for extreme-temperature industrial applications such as gaskets, seals and safety apparel created the CD for employees responsible for hot-work safety practices. It provides an overview Factory Mutual's new Standard 4950.

According to Kathie Leonard, Auburn's president and CEO, FM 4950 is the first of its kind and represents an important milestone in hot work safety. “It also offers a way for fabric manufacturers to differentiate their products from those made with substandard materials and less consistent manufacturing processes,” she says.

Auburn played a part in the standard's development and produced the CD to introduce it to safety professionals who may be in the process of updating their hot-work safety guidelines.

Safety standards for hot work such as cutting and welding remained virtually unchanged over many years, with fabrics addressed only briefly. The impetus for change came from an insurance company study of hot-work losses that showed 90 percent of them were due to poor hot-work safety guidelines. FM began developing a fabrics standard, and Auburn and other manufacturers supplied FM with a range of fabrics to help develop criteria and provide feedback on fabric and safety standards as they were developed.

According to Auburn, the company was the first to have welding pads, blankets and curtains tested and approved to the new standard. To date, 17 products have met FM 4950, each produced with a range of fibers and coatings for different applications and levels of heat resistance, Leonard says.

The CD documents the tests that fabrics must undergo to receive FM approval. These include a fire and thermal test, paper ignition test, charring embrittlement test and accelerated-weather test. Under FM 4950, the manufacturing plant also must be inspected and the quality-management system reviewed. Auditing then occurs on a regular basis.

The CD looks at points to consider when selecting a fabric, such as where the work will occur, if outdoor conditions are a factor, and how much of the fabric will be exposed to heat. It also provides safety information and tips for finding the right fabric for an application.

For a copy of the CD, contact (800) 264-6689 or