Specifying garments for firefighters is a tough job, with many variables that you need to balance to be sure you get the right kit. The outer shell of your turn-out kit is a critical part of its anatomy, so here’s what you need to know about the outer fabric of a fire suit.

The function of a fire suit’s outer fabric

While not quite the first line of defence for firefighters (that honour goes to the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish applied to it) the fabric on fire suits does play a major part in its function.

It needs to be strong enough to withstand the tough conditions firefighters face on call-outs – from building fires to RTAs – have the right amount of heat protection and breathability, plus contribute to the suit being light and comfortable to wear.

Colour is important. The gold colour so familiar to UK firefighters not only makes it easy to see when a suit needs cleaning, but also contributes to heat protection by radiating heat away from the suit.

What are the fabric options for firefighter gear?

There are a few well-known fabric and fibre options for firefighter protective gear; each has their pros and cons. The best functionality will always be achieved by blending at least two together to harness the positives of each fibre.

The main brands of fibre are PBI, PBO, Kevlar, Nomex and Kermel. FlamePro’s new range of turn-out suits gives fire brigades three options, each comprising different fibre blends and all meeting the new EN469:2020 standard.

At the top of the price range is our new premium turn-out kit, designed using PBI Max, the strongest fabric in the PBI range. It has all of the attributes you will associate with PBI fabrics – low thermal conductivity and retaining its flexibility and strength after two flashovers.

The mid-range suit is constructed from a brand new blend created by Kermel. It matches PBI on strength, will withstand two flashovers and has good colour- and light-fastness. This suit is one of the first on the market to be CE certified.

Our best value suit contains a mix of meta-Aramid and para-Aramid fibres to ensure it has good tensile strength, stands up to tearing and retains its colour.
All of our new range exceeds the requirements of EN469 Class 2, giving you peace of mind that your crews will be protected when on call-outs.

How to choose your brigade’s fire suits

Specifying the right turn-out kit for your brigade depends on striking the right balance on each of the factors – thermal protection, breathability, strength, and comfort. Of these, the outer shell mainly impacts the strength and can impact overall comfort with differences in weight and rigidity.

Once a suit has been confirmed to meet the minimum standard, brigades then need to choose what’s most important to their crews, based on the type of incidents they respond to.

Chat to our friendly experts about what you need to know about the outer fabric of a fire suit to help you decide by calling +44 (0) 1332 341030.

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