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Firefighting fabric’s new frontier with TenCate

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Christopher Hollert, Sales Director for Emergency Response in Central Europe at TenCate Protective Fabrics, highlights how PBI Peak5 is setting a new standard in firefighting gear

In the realm of protective fabrics, innovation is a constant pursuit.

Christopher Hollert, Sales Director for Emergency Response in Central Europe at TenCate Protective Fabrics, sheds light on their latest offering: PBI Peak5 – an advanced material that promises to redefine the standards of protective gear for the fire service industry.

At the core of TenCate Protective Fabrics’ product development strategy lies an understanding of the end user’s needs.

“All our products start with an end user and the challenges they face,” Hollert emphasises.

This user-centric approach is evident in the conception of PBI Peak5.

The team at TenCate Protective Fabrics identified two primary challenges in existing protective gear: durability and comfort.

Their solution? A fabric that excels in both.

Hollert describes PBI Peak5 as: “A lightweight, extremely durable outer shell made using a high blend percentage of PBI fibres.” PBI, or Polybenzimidazole, is renowned for its exceptional thermal and chemical stability, making it an ideal choice for protective clothing, especially in firefighting.


One of the key aspects that sets PBI Peak5 apart in the protective fabrics industry is its incorporation of Enforce technology.

“Revolutionary, patented technology that delivers leading levels of fabric durability,” is how Hollert describes Enforce.

“This succinctly captures the essence of what makes Enforce a ground-breaking development in the realm of protective fabrics.

“Really what it does is it takes a normal yarn and it doubles the strength of that yarn,” explains Hollert.

This enhancement in yarn strength represents a significant leap forward in fabric durability.

The implications of such a technological advancement are far-reaching.

The balance between lightness and strength is a critical factor in protective gear, particularly for firefighters who require mobility along with protection.

Setting standards

As TenCate Protective Fabrics continues to innovate in the field of protective materials, the introduction of PBI Peak5 marks a significant milestone in their product lineup.

Hollert notes: “This is our first global fire service outer shell fabric.”

This highlights PBI Peak5’s unique positioning as a product designed not just for regional but for global application.

Such a global focus brings with it the necessity for versatile compliance.

“Wherever this product is available – whether in US, EU, APAC, or elsewhere, PBI Peak5 is certified to those local standards – EN, NFPA, ANZI, and so on,” Hollert elaborates.

This approach, he notes, is a new direction for protective fabric maker.

When it comes to the placement of PBI Peak5 within TenCate Protective Fabrics’ range of products, Hollert is clear about its premium status.

“In terms of where this fits within our product lines, Peak5 is a top-of-the-line product,” he asserts.

“This outer shell really does have everything we have to offer, and its position within the product line reflects that distinction.”

Extreme protection

Hollert highlights a fundamental issue faced by firefighters: “On any call – beyond just fire calls – firefighters are always battling heat.

The summers are hot.” He points out the crucial need for gear that combats the discomfort and stress brought on by high temperatures and humid conditions.

In response to this, Hollert says PBI Peak5 is designed to be: “A lightweight solution – which obviously helps alleviate some of those symptoms of working in hot weather.”

Often, lighter materials compromise on durability, but this is not the case with PBI Peak5.

Hollert emphasises this unique blend of features: “The point of difference of PBI Peak5 is, you get that lightweight advantage without giving up that durability that you would expect from a heavier outer shell fabric.”

This balance is crucial for firefighters who require gear that is both easy to maneuver in and resilient.

Hollert credits the secret behind this combination of lightness and strength as being the Enforce technology: “That point of difference, that comfort with durability, all comes from Enforce technology. That’s what makes PBI Peak5 so special.”

Aesthetic appeal

As PBI Peak5 begins to make its mark in the fire and safety sector, the feedback received so far has been a crucial indicator of its impact.

Hollert shares insights into the initial reactions from users and observers, focusing on two primary aspects: the weight of the fabric and its aesthetic appeal.

A standout feature of PBI Peak5, as Hollert notes, is its weight.

“The first thing that everyone notices is just how lightweight this outer shell is,” he says.

“When someone takes another outer shell on a hanger in one hand, and PBI Peak5 on a hanger on the other, people are really surprised at just how significantly lighter the Peak5 garment feels.”

This palpable difference in weight is a testament to the effectiveness of the Enforce technology in creating a fabric that enhances comfort without sacrificing protection.

In addition to its functional benefits, PBI Peak5 has also been praised for its aesthetic qualities.

“The other thing we’ve been hearing about is its appearance. The fabric offers a clean, technical look that really sends a professional message.”

PBI Peak5’s design appeals both to the garment makers who value the ease of working with the material as well as to firefighters who take pride in their professional appearance.

The feedback on PBI Peak5 underscores the successful fusion of practicality and style in protective gear.

As Hollert points out, it’s not just about creating a fabric that meets the technical requirements of safety and durability.

It’s also about delivering a product that resonates on an aesthetic level, reinforcing the professionalism and pride of those in the fire service industry.

With its lightweight nature and distinctive appearance, PBI Peak5 is set to redefine expectations in the realm of protective fabrics.

A global standard in firefighting gear

As TenCate Protective Fabrics continues to innovate and lead in the protective fabric industry, Hollert offers his perspective on where he envisions PBI Peak5 in the next five years, reflecting on the evolving needs of fire departments and the global scope of this product.

The demand for advanced personal protective equipment in the firefighting world is constantly growing.

“More and more, we see fire departments looking for the next big advancement in PPE,” says Hollert. “There’s always a pushing of the envelope for more, better protection.”

This continual quest for improvement sets the stage for products like PBI Peak5, which represent significant technological advancements.

A key factor in this evolution is the increasing awareness and willingness of decision-makers to invest in high-quality gear.

“Brigades and departments are doing more and more to protect and enable their firefighters,” says Hollert.

He notes that there is a growing recognition of the dangers firefighters face and a corresponding willingness to invest “both financially and otherwise, to help mitigate those dangers by selecting the right gear.”

This trend, while prevalent in markets like the US and EU for years, is now expanding globally.

“It’s spreading, thankfully, to other markets all across the world,” Hollert adds.

This global expansion is where PBI Peak5’s worldwide certifications and availability become critical.

“That’s where the global aspect of this product launch is really a unique element for us.

“Whatever market you may be located in – there’s a good chance PBI Peak5 will be available and certified for your department,” he explains.

This global reach ensures that PBI Peak5’s benefits are accessible to firefighters worldwide.

Looking ahead, Hollert is optimistic for PBI Peak5’s future: “In 5 years, we expect to see PBI Peak5 on the backs of firefighters all across the world. And we’re super excited about that.”

This vision reflects a belief in PBI Peak5’s potential to become a global standard in firefighting gear, offering unmatched protection and comfort to those who brave the flames.

As PBI Peak5 continues to penetrate markets worldwide, it stands poised to redefine the landscape of protective gear in the fire and safety sector.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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