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I am currently having a problem with our PPE deteriorating. It is PBI between 4-5 years old and easily tearing. We wash our gear on a twice a year schedule and when contaminated. It is washed with an extractor to maufacturers specs with recomended detergent. Has anyone else had a similar problem or have any idea of the cause? This has happened with different shift members from different engine houses. I have not been able to link a specific Haz-Mat incident that affected all the members gear. Any ideas?

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Do you guys store your gear in a room with a window?? If so it could be from the UV Light. Just a thought.

Angola Fire
Yes, some is stored in the apparatus room that does get some sun light. Only one of the engine houses. We have moved the gear as far back as possible and is no longer in sun light. Per the manufacturer UV light will damage the fabric. Thanks for the reply.

Fenton FPD
Rob, have you contacted PBI? I feel certain that they would be willing to assist you in finding out what the problem is with that gear. I had a problem with gear (from another manufacturer) and when I contacted them, they asked for me to send them a sample so they could ensure that it was not a manufacturing defect (which it turned out to be. Our problem was with the inner liner. The company replaced all of our inner liners. In the end both my department and the manufacturer came out good. Our gear was repaired and the manufacturer got to correct a problem. They cannot fix the problem unless they know about it. If they are not willing to help, I am sure that any other manufacturer would jump at the chance to expose any manufacturing problems. I hope this helps. I would be interested in knowing what caused the problem as well. Please keep us informed. BE SAFE!

Thanks, I have been in contact with the manufacturers rep. Originally the manufacturer thought the problem was related to our cleaning and storage. We made adjustments as the manufacturer suggested, however the problem has persisted. Just recently we sent a set off to the manufacturer fir further testing. In my area the problem seems to only within my department, however all the gear was purchased at the same time.

Do you have PBI Matrix or PBI Kevlar? We have some Morning Pride Basofil Kevlar that is doing the same thing. Ours was manufactured between 2003 and 2004. Prior to my arrival our department was washing it using the wrong detergent so I just assumed it was due to the wrong PH in the detergent. I have taken some out of service because it seems paper thin and it is about 4 shades lighter in color than it should be.
I'm not sure if this is related or not, but a few years ago there was a problem with turnout gear that was called the "Screen Door Effect". It had something to do with the gear breaking down under "normal" use situations. It was a problem with a certain material used by different manufacturers in some models of gear. One of the companies was Securitex, but PBI may have been one of the manufacturers as well. I know the IAFF had a safety memo about the gear, and you may be able to find it on their web site. Securitex was involved in a law suit with the family of a firefighter who died in the line of duty as a result of burns. This happened in New Jersey and I believe there was a settlement out of court. Securitex is now Sperian Protective Apparel and they are still selling gear. The only reason I know about this is that our department bought some Sperian gear and the guys on the line had some concerns about what we were given. If anyone has any further info about this gear let me know, but we are afraid that we are now getting gear that is inadequate.
It could be a bad batch of material. Back in 1999 we had a large purchase of Lion gear I think, and it had Breathe Tex moisture barriers in it that were prone to failure under fire conditions. it took us over a year and a lucky grant win to replace it. The Chief had members standing in the shower and timing when the moisutre would wick through to determine how ood the gear was.
Yeah Barry, I think that's part of FEMSA test!?! Man, that's bad! Was he buying raincoats or fire gear? The big selling point the salesman used with our chief was, "This gear was designed for snowboarders to do tricks in." It's a true story!!! Some chiefs just don't get it at all. They buy whatever a salesperson tells them to buy. Believe me, I could go on and on about the relationship between manufacturers/ salespeople and fire chiefs. The bumper sticker, "Boys with Toys" comes to mind. It's sad and depressing.
I hear you there, Chris. It seems whenever there is a shift in personnel or managment in the fire service we have to re-create the wheel all over again. I can't count the number of times I've seen a chief officer change something becuase the previous guy had set it up. Yup, doing something different for the sake of doing something different....
There is a rather large fire district in the Denver area that recently received a grant for new bunker gear. They didn't have obsolete gear, they just wanted to change the whole department from brown to black bunkers all at once. The deputy chief told the vendor that was supplying the brown bunkers, "we owe it to the guys and to tradition to put them in black gear." I'm not not too sure the taxpayers would be thrilled to hear that logic. Very depressing.
How about a chief who sold a perfectly good, new engine because he didn't like the shape of the cab!?! This was also the same guy who spent thousands redesigning collar pins, buying chrome hub caps, and replacing a perfectly good vocal alarm system. Not to mention paint jobs to apparatus, buying new recliners and TVs. He lasted about a year.
It is PBI Matrix purchased in 2003, sounds like the same problem.
Thanks to all who have replied to my topic. I have recently heard from the manufacturer. It has been termined that the gear made with PBI Matrix has deteriorated due to UV sunlight and flourescent light exposure. We will be making changes to prevent further damage. I suggest anyone using PBI store their gear out of the sunlight and turn lights off when not needed. Don't let gear sit outside during when the apparatus is parked out side. Hopefully no one else will have this problem.


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