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Ask the Experts: Which PPE outer shell fabric is the most durable?


By Guy Lucas
For FireHouse.com

Which outer shell fabric is the most durable? The answer is...it depends.  It depends on who you ask and it depends on how you store and care for your turnout gear.

There are three primary categories of performance that all outer shells share: protection, comfort, and durability. Within these three categories are subsets of performance. For example, within the protection category there are factors like Thermal Protective Performance (TPP), strength after a thermal exposure, and resistance to moisture/chemical absorption. Within comfort you may consider factors like flexibility, lower weight, and higher Total Heat Loss (THL) as benchmarks for better comfort.

Then we come to durability. Within the durability category are two main subsets the industry considers critical to maintaining a long outer shell life: strength (tear resistance) and abrasion resistance. While this seems simple enough, it isn't that simple.

Everyone agrees abrasion resistance is an important factor in fabric durability. The problem is no universally accepted abrasion test methods exist which accurately predict outer shell durability. The test method most commonly used to show abrasion resistance is Taber Abrasion. The problem with the Taber Abrasion test, and one reason it will never be a NFPA 1971 requirement, is that textile companies have found ways to exploit the Taber Abrasion machine. Some textile manufacturers use chemical finishes that serve to "gum up" the taber wheel...giving a false indication of the fabric’s actual abrasion resistance in the field. When you take away the tricky finishes that push taber performance to a "gummed up" 5000-6000 cycles, a fabric’s abrasion resistance has more to do with the yarns and fibers than anything else.

Read the full article on FireHouse.com.

This brought was brought to you by Safety Components, a LION supply partner.


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