Next-generation protection

Published:  25 August, 2017

A firefighter’s protective clothing fabric with a chemical repellent that meets current environmental regulations has been launched.

Petrogard+ is a protective fabric coating that replaces so-called ‘C8’ fluorochemicals with new C6 technology. It has been developed by UK manufacturer Heathcoat Fabrics.

The chemical coating is added to the surface of fibres in firefighting clothing to provide water, oil and chemical protection. Fluorocarbon finishes are used because no alternatives have been found that provide the water and oil repellency required by EN469, the European standard for firefighting protective clothing. This film prevents droplets from penetrating the fabric whilst allowing moisture vapour and air to transfer through.

For some time the textile industry has been faced with the challenge of replacing the C8 fluorochemicals previously used in the coatings with a shorter chain, C6 versions that would perform to the same level and with similar durability. C8 chemicals were found to break down to PFOA in the environment, a substance of concern to regulatory authorities due to its environmental and human health impact.

'The challenge has been replacing C8 fluorocarbon compounds with shorter chain C6 chemistry in protective fabric coatings,' explained Mark Drysdale, commercial manager of protective wear at Heathcoat. 'Having refined the fluoro-chemistry after several years’ work, we have a safer and greener solution that provides durable chemical repellency combined with a UV inhibitor to retain strength.'

Petrogard+ is now available on all Heathcoat protective outer shell fabrics including its new PBI Pure range of heat and flame protective fabrics. These use the optimal PBI blend combining heat and flame protective PBI fibres with para-aramid, a supporting fibre which provides high strength.

According to the manufacturer, all three fabric variations – PBI Pure Dynamo, PBI Pure Core and PBI Pure Shield – are designed to give improved breathability, added comfort to the wearer and an increased percentage of strength retention after exposure to UV. In combination with Petrogard+, the range is suited to firefighter protection and provides an industry-leading level of protection against fire, heat and chemicals including petrol.

The new fabrics will be officially launched at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham, UK, on 20-21 September.

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