Setting the New Standard


Tim Thorne, Global Marketing Manager, TenCate Protective Fabrics talks to Fire Buyer about the global launch of product innovation PBI Peak5 

In the rapidly evolving field of protective fabrics, the recent global launch of PBI Peak5 marks a significant milestone. Tim Thorne, Global Marketing Manager at TenCate Protective Fabrics, delves into the innovations and technologies behind this groundbreaking outer shell fabric designed for structural firefighting. With over a decade of experience at TenCate, Thorne has played a pivotal role in product development and international business, contributing to the company’s mission to enhance firefighter safety and performance.  

PBI Peak5 stands out for its lightweight yet durable design, achieved through the use of high-strength Enforce technology and a blend of PBI and Kevlar fibres. This fabric not only meets but exceeds the demanding needs of the fire and safety sector by offering unprecedented thermal protection, tensile strength, and tear resistance in a breathable, flexible weave. Certified to global standards, PBI Peak5 exemplifies TenCate’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the well-being of emergency responders worldwide. As we explore the features, certifications, and potential impact of PBI Peak5 on the emergency response market, we gain insight into how TenCate Protective Fabrics continues to lead the way in protective textile solutions, driven by a deep understanding of the challenges and needs of firefighters around the globe. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background with TenCate Protective Fabrics?  

I’m Tim Thorne, and I’m the Global Market Manager for Emergency Response for TenCate Protective Fabrics. I’ve been here at TenCate for about 12 years – I started back in 2011. Over the years, I’ve served in many different roles. After spending about 6 years in product development, I moved into International Business Development, where I got a lot of exposure to the European and Asian Pacific markets we serve. Today, I serve in the role of Global Market Manager for the Emergency Response segment.  

Tell us a bit about this new outer shell, PBI Peak5.  

PBI Peak5 is one of our newest outer shell fabrics for structural firefighting. Our goal was to create an outer shell product that was durable and thermally protective, but also extremely lightweight. We achieved this with PBI Peak5. It’s a lightweight and extremely durable outer shell, which boasts a very high percentage of PBI fibres. What makes the product so durable is our patented Enforce technology, created especially for the fire service industry. 

What is Enforce technology? 

Enforce technology is important for how we are advancing new materials for firefighters. TenCate Protective Fabrics has a rich history of innovation in firefighter textiles, but there are still limitations that we and our industry face. One of those challenges is engineering lighter-weight materials with the same durability and protection that firefighters get out of traditional gear. Enforce technology gives us the ability to blend multiple fibres into very high-strength yarn structures that reinforce the fabric to make it stronger without adding weight. For example, we can engineer an outer shell fabric that is much lighter, and it will resist tearing and breaking better than older technologies—all with the same high level of thermal protection. It really is a revolutionary breakthrough for emergency response fabrics like outer shells.  

How is PBI Peak5 different from your other offerings?  

PBI Peak5 is the lightest PBI outer shell we have ever engineered. It’s unique because the fabric has it all—PBI and Kevlar fibres, filament yarns, our high-strength Enforce yarns, and antistatic fibres—all in a flexible and breathable Peak Twill weave. PBI Peak5 is impressive because even at 180 gsm (5.3 osy) it has high thermal resistance, tensile strength, and tear strength. This enables garment manufacturers to create a much lighter, yet still protective and durable, fire suit. 

PBI Peak 5 boasts the highest blend percentage of PBI on the market. Why is this important? 

Well, PBI is more than just a trusted brand – everyone in the fire service knows it. We’ve partnered with them for years and they make incredible fibre. On a technical side, the letters stand for a fibre polymer, polybenzimidazole. This fibre has unique properties that boasts an extremely high thermal stability with a fibre decomposition temperature of 700° C (1300° F). By using a high percentage of PBI fibres, we ensure maximum thermal protection in a lighter weight, more breathable fabric. That means PBI Peak5 can withstand high heat and still maintain fabric strength and integrity. We also combine the PBI fibres with high-strength Kevlar® fibres that are 5x stronger than steel. That makes PBI Peak5 extremely strong and durable.  


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