PBI reports on being at the forefront of firefighter protection for over three decades since its unique fibre technology was first used to develop outer fabrics that are the first line of defence in fire operations
The company has created new standards of performance and protection that are recognised all over the world, because its products do exactly what they promise.
In what is the latest chapter of that amazing journey of innovation, 2020 sees the arrival of a ground-breaking new PBI fibre that allows fabrics to be lighter than ever, improving comfort, breathability and freedom of movement in structural firefighting gear, without compromising protection.
Fabric made with PBI LP™, which stands for ‘lightweight performance’, is ten per cent lighter than other outer fabrics for structural fire gear, helping to reduce the risk of heat stress. Even though the unique PBI LP™ is lighter, outer fabrics will maintain heat and flame protection and resistance to break open, without compromise.
The new lighter fibre performs incredibly well when used in outer shell fabrics, even when tested against other heavier para-aramid and meta aramid outer shells.
In independent test undertaken by BTTG in the same conditions the 180 gsm PBI LP™ garment outperformed an identical garment made with 220 gsm meta-aramid outer fabric. An eight second burn test was undertaken on the 2006 version of the male heat sensing manikin known as RALPH, which was developed by BTTG and conforms to ISO 13506. For the test the hands and head were not used, leaving 123 sensors on torso, arms, legs that monitor the temperature on the surface of the manikin during the test.
The BTTG tests showed second and third degree burn injury prediction of only 1.8 per cent for the garment with lighter PBI LP™, compared to a much higher figure of 19.3 per cent burn injury for the meta-aramid, despite the meta-aramid also being 40gsm heavier.
Like all PBI fabrics, PBI LP™ delivers excellent tensile strength and will not become brittle, shrink or break open when exposed to flame and high temperatures. This means that 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. PBI’s protection from exposure to heat and flame has been proven over many years of independent testing and performance in the field.
In a Dynamic Flame Test, which is used to demonstrate the time it takes for an outer fabric to breaks down under tension, PBI LP™ of 180g/m2 lasted 48 seconds, while a much heavier 225/ g/m2 Para-aramid/Meta-aramid fabric lasted just three seconds.
PBI LP™ fabric is a result of PBI’s continued investment in research and development that creates new standards of firefighter protection. That development process always has to take account of the balance between comfort and protection. That is why outer shells made with PBI LP™ join a wide range of PBI fabrics that meet the need of every situation and work effectively as an integral part of all garment design. Each product has different properties and applications, but every PBI fabric exceeds the required protection standards from heat and flame for outer fabrics.
The company’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.