Why FR Needs a Champion

As all those working out in the field know, energy work, well, it takes a lot of energy. It’s muscle achingly, body punishingly, hard. Electrical workers can be hundreds of feet off the ground or cramped in tight service tunnels underground. Oil and gas workers face 115º heat of the Permian basin or the -50º polar vortex of Bakken.

And it’s dangerous. From working with heavy equipment and at heights to the explosive gas flash fires and electrical arcs, the hazards are many. And a constant mental strain.

To make things even more challenging yet, these jobs are often thankless. People expect their electricity to work. They assume there will be gas in the pump and synthetic, oil-based products on the shelf. From aspirin to antihistamines, batteries to golf balls, clothing to crayons, the men and women of energy help provide it all. They keep the wheels of progress moving forward. They power the world.

Now imagine doing all this 50+ years ago. Before worker safety, before OSHA, and before FR PPE. What must have it been like when no one was really on your side?

And even as FR PPE came on the scene in the 1970’s it was heavy, movement impairing, clothing. All well intended, but arguably a safety hazard itself.

That’s why we started Bulwark. To be the ever-present champion of these people. And the relentless protectors of those who power the world. When we launched in 1971, we didn’t invent FR, but we started on a journey to bringing innovation to the category. Here are a few highlights:

  • 1971: FR workwear launched under Red Kap® brand which would later become Bulwark
  • 1987: Introduction of durable cotton garments that are guaranteed FR for the life of the garment, so workers would never have to wonder if it will work.
  • 1992: Addition of Nomex® to FR line that improved appearance and shrinkage control.
  • 1996: Red Kap and Bulwark merge companies and FR technology to create a leadership powerhouse in FR.
  • 2001: Bulwark logo moves from the right cuff to the left sleeve to increase visibility, and easily signal compliance of safety workers driving onto the site for safety managers.
  • 2007: Bulwark introduces the only FR ANSI shirt available to make sure workers where both safe and seen.
  • 2011: Bulwark launches the lightest weight CAT 2/NFPA® 2112 complaint garment on the market which were lighter and more comfortable to wear thus reducing heat stress.
  • 2014: Bulwark launches the iQ® series Collection, bringing performance athletic wear properties to FR and maximizing airflow to keep the wearer dry and comfortable.
  • 2018: Bulwark acquires Workrite
  • 2021: Bulwark becomes independently owned so innovations can keep developing.
  • Over the years we’ve trained over 50,000 safety professionals on the hazards they face and how the protection they wear can save lives.
  • Our experts know how to keep your employees safe because we sit on the boards and committees that create and enforce the safety standards and regulations.

Our commitment to advancing the industry has inspired the industry to join us in continuous improvement and innovation. By some estimates, together, our efforts have saved countless lives.

Bottom line is that over the past 50 years, Bulwark changed FR for the better. By being the champion FR has needed so desperately, for so long. And we couldn’t be prouder.

As for leading the FR industry for the next 50 years? Well, that starts today. By celebrating a half century of going full power on behalf of the men and women who wear our FR apparel. By toasting to our return to independence, so that we are once again free to write our own story. And, above all, by putting every ounce of our energy into redoubling our efforts to protect all those who place their trust in the Bulwark triangle.

Because safety never stops. And neither will we.

Robert Grimes

Vice President/General Manager


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