The First Sustainable DWR Finish for PPE Fabrics

Safety Components, a division of Elevate Textiles, enjoys a long history of developing fabric technologies that move the industry forward. With patented, high performance flame resistant outer shell fabrics like PBI Max™ and Armor AP™, thermal liners like Glide Ice™ and Prism™, and wildland/tech rescue fabrics like Sigma — more large metro cites specify and wear materials made by Safety Components than any other.

Sustainability

At Elevate Textiles, one of the largest textile companies in the world, improving sustainability for a lower carbon footprint is a cornerstone of every new initiative. The development of a water repellent finish free of PFAS is part of a critical strategy undertaken by Safety Components. The result is a finish that requires 15% less energy in production. PF Zero™ by Safety Components is the first non-fluorinated durable water repellent finish developed specifically for PPE fabrics.

Performance

PF Zero™ passes NFPA 1971 and NFPA 1951 water absorption resistance requirements (NFPA 1971: must be less than 15% after 5 washes; NFPA 1951 less than 15% after 10 washes). There may be some tradeoffs in the move away from fluorocarbons with a reduction in oil repellency and fuel/chemical runoff performance. We are continuing to investigate potential tradeoffs in performance (see additional comments under “Availability”).

Water Absorption Comparison

Rest assured, the current materials Safety Components makes today, and the materials we have made for the last 20+ years (with fluorinated chemistry), as well as the the materials we will make long into the future (with and/or without fluorinated chemistry), are safe to use and are sold under the UL certification.

Availability – Q1 2020

PF Zero™, a patent pending technology, provides excellent water absorption resistance on materials for NFPA 1971 and 1951. Comparatively, the current Safety Components fabrics with a fluorocarbon finish provide excellent water absorption resistance and, in addition, superior performance with regard to fuel and chemical repellency. The repellency of fuels and chemicals aids in resisting the penetration of toxic chemicals into the outer shell fabric and also aids in the cleaning and stain resistance.

We are currently working to determine the implication for cleaning and stain resistance with the loss in superior fuel and chemical repellency. We are also looking to answer any potential impact a non-fluorinated finish might have on the ability of firefighers to effectively reduce exposure to carcinogens through the currently recommended practice of Preliminary Exposure Reduction on the fire ground.

While neither the “oil repellency” nor “fuel/chemical run off” performance provided by fluorocarbons are requirements under NFPA 1971/1951, we need to understand the full impact on firefighter safety when removing or reducing this performance feature. We will be working over the coming months to answer these questions and once we have these answers we will announce a firm date on availability — expected some time first quarter 2020.

Want to Know More About PF Zero?