Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
No-sweat fabric is put through its paces by Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Published:  16 September, 2014

The new fabric is designed to manage moisture and keep wearers dry and cool.

K-Sorb, made by Technical Absorbents, was recently tested by Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Service (UK) instructors at their impressive Waddington training facility as they replicated a nationally-recognised BA exercise. 

K-Sorb contains the company’s patented SAF technology and its composite structure allows sweat to rapidly be absorbed from the body, providing a dry, comfortable feeling for the user.  The sweat is locked away within the highly absorbent core, reducing wet back and the wet, clammy feeling.  In addition, a water-proof outer layer reduces the risk of wet through onto outer garments, keeping the rest of the user’s clothes dry and fresh. It is also fully washable, allowing repeated use of the material.

“The fabric is designed to work in extreme conditions and absorb up to 10 times its own weight of sweat during use, the equivalent of 4.5l of sweat for a standard size jacket (1.5 square meters of fabric)” explained Applications Development Specialist James Docherty, “and so to expose it to conditions such as these is a great test.”

The trial took place in an attack unit which is used by Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue on a regular basis to train and reassess each of its 700 personnel from across the county in the use of breathing apparatus. “It is a national requirement that each firefighter is reassessed every two years,” said BA Lead, Thomas Patrick.

“On each training day up to eight students are put through the training programme and led by three to four instructors. At any one time there two students are in the attack unit with an instructor. Students would only be exposed to the heat for up to five minutes, but each instructor could potentially be in the unit for a duration of up to half an hour.

“With temperatures reaching as high as 700◦C, it is important that the kit we wear works for us and keeps us safe, and so this is the perfect scenario for trialling new products such as the K-Sorb fabric.  At the end of the day, it is new developments like this coming through that will hopefully help protect instructors and potentially firefighters in the future, and so it is worth putting it through its paces in an environment in which it would be used.”

As a result of the trial, feedback was received that will provide further development opportunities to Technical Absorbents. “The team at Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue set up a bespoke trial for us in a controlled environment,” explained James Docherty. “This allowed us to trial the fabric in different ways and also allowed us to see the difference when compared to some of the standard undergarments currently being used in this manner.

“After over 30 minutes of being exposed to such extreme temperatures, it was clear to see that K-Sorb did what it was designed to do – it absorbed and retained a lot of sweat, under heavy protective clothing where normal evaporation is limited or prevented. One wearer wore it over a cotton t-shirt which he could normally ring out, but on this occasion, he couldn’t as a lot had been absorbed by the K-Sorb layer. Although the fabric is designed to be worn next to the skin, it was worthwhile testing it in this way to see the effect.

“It is this rapid removal of the sweat away from the body, which brings with it a feeling of being cooler and more comfortable. We also had some interesting comments about where the fabric was directly in contact with the arms, they felt dry, which would help alleviate the associated problems with scolding. Further trials will also be carried out in September.”

Technical Absorbents will launch the K-Sorb technology at the Emergency Services Show in September.