PBI Performance Products is setting new standards in firefighter protection around the world as more fire and rescue services than ever choose the company’s high performance fabrics to protect their firefighters in a wide range of frontline operations.
The company has seen significant international growth and in the 32 years since opening for business in Charlotte, North Carolina, has created a legacy that makes PBI a global force in personal protection across Europe, USA, the Middle East Asia and Australasia. Their fabrics are worn for protection in the most extreme environments by astronauts in space, emergency first responders and special forces, petrochemical engineers, as well as Formula One drivers.
The company offers a wide range of fabrics that meet the need of every situation and work effectively as an integral part of all garment designs. Each fabric has different properties and applications but every PBI fabric provides the required protection from heat and flame that an outer fabric must deliver. This protection is inherent and will not wash out or diminish over the lifetime of the garment.
PBI’s outer fabrics designed for structural firefighting are renowned for the high levels of thermal protection, comfort and durability. The company has driven the development of an extensive range of structural firefighting outer fabrics designed specifically for the different needs of fire services. This includes PBI Gold, PBI Matrix, PBI Max, Gemini XTL, Titan 1260, ENFORCER 24K and Ibena X55 and Heathcoat’s Pure Concept with PBI.
PBI also sets the standard for lightweight flame resistant specialist fabrics that are the trusted choice for the most challenging technical rescue, wildland and industrial applications. Its TGP 185 and TriGuard fabrics have been specially developed to meet the very specific needs of these sectors.
PBI TGP 185 is the most recent lightweight fabric, created out of a development partnership with Heathcoat Fabrics.
Only weighing 185g/m², the fabric retains a high level of comfort for wearers and feels as soft as cotton but has a higher tensile strength than many other heavier fabrics, with much greater strength retention after prolonged exposure to sunlight. It will also withstand many washes, retaining light fastness throughout the lifetime of the garment.
The new fabric is specially designed to provide lightweight, breathable protection against heat, flash fire and arc flash. It is highly durable and like all PBI fabrics is inherently flame resistant so will not ignite. It will not become brittle, shrink or break open when exposed to flame and high temperatures, ensuring high levels of protection in operational conditions.
PBI TGP 185 is also highly resistant to chemicals and retains 85% of its tensile strength after 10 hours contact with hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, acetone or petrol. In ATPV Incident Energy level tests predicted to cause second degree burns in flash fire or arc flash PBI TGP 185 performed significantly better than competing fabrics with a score of 8.9 cal/cm² ATPV.
Firefighters wearing the new fabric will experience excellent levels of comfort as it wicks perspiration 58% faster than a typical meta-aramid fabric, improving moisture management within the garment and reducing the risks of steam burns for the wearer.
The ability to move freely and comfortably without reducing protection is essential in wildland firefighting and technical rescue work. PBI TGP 185 is specifically designed to maintain high protection levels while increasing comfort and breathability and reducing the risk of heat stress. Although it is lighter than other fabrics, it doesn’t compromise on protection from heat and flame and in many areas performs better than heavier alternatives.
PBI TGP 185 is uniquely dyeable and available in a wide range of colours including red, orange, green, yellow as well as navy blue and black.
The new fabrics complements PBI Triguard®, which is another lightweight fabric that offers high levels of flame, heat and arc flash resistance and is the standard in providing value and performance in the petrochemical, gas and electricity industries.
PBI Triguard®, remains supple after exposure to heat and flame and retains more than 85% of its tensile strength after 10 hours contact with hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, acetone or petrol. In the vertical flame test ASTM D6413 it has a char length which is only a quarter of fire resistant cotton and traditional meta aramids and after two 12 second burns there is still no after flame.
One of the biggest challenges to firefighter safety is the risk posed by heat stress. It can cause many problems, from muscle fatigue and reduced cognitive function to cardiovascular strain and cardiac arrest. Research has shown that more firefighters die in the line of duty from cardiac arrest than any other cause. It is a paradox of firefighter protection that structural firefighting garments designed to protect the wearer from heat and flame can potentially contribute to the rise in core body temperature that triggers heat stress. That’s why it is so important that the outer fabric, which has a primary role of protecting from heat and flame, is designed to mitigate the risk of heat stress.
PBI fabrics are designed to offer maximum thermal protection from the outside, while at the same time delivering high levels of breathability and comfort to reduce the risk of heat stress. They are inherently flame resistant and this will not diminish over time, despite hard wear and washing. Because they will not become brittle, shrink or break open when exposed to flame and high temperatures, which is among the characteristics of other fabrics, the integrity of the internal layers of the garment is protected and the transfer of any radiant heat is slower, allowing more time for firefighters to escape to safety in a situation such as a flashover.
Choosing to work with only the best fabric manufacturers in the supply chain ensures that every PBI product performs to the highest levels required in modern firefighting and rescue. The company’s close working relationship with its supply chains is a key factor in the continued investment in research and innovation which results in products that set new standards in comfort and performance.
Ian Callaghan, Senior Director of International Sales and Marketing at PBI said:
“Our relentless drive to continue to develop and improve protection for those who work in challenging environments is underwritten by our unique partnership approach, which extends throughout the supply chain to the end user who wears our product on the frontline.
“Whether in the intensity of structural firefighting or the rigours of wildland, technical rescue and industrial environments, PBI fabrics are the first line of defence for the wearer and must consistently deliver high standards of performance without fail. All of us at PBI are aware of our responsibility to understand every aspect of our customers’ need so that we can continue to keep them safe in their work.”
Sustainability is a key priority for PBI and it is incorporated across all of the company’s operations. The business continuously strives to improve its facility process models and organisational policies to ensure that it is doing its absolute best for the environment. PBI has received recognition in its effort with an award for Excellence in Corporate Responsibility from the South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance. As part of the programme the company has established long term contracts with all of its raw materials suppliers to maintain quality specifications and facility inspections where needed.
Firefighters who wear PBI can do their job with confidence and peace of mind that their PPE has been tested and proven to offer the highest levels of protection.
For more information, go to www.pbiproducts.com