Fibar, Inc. was founded by Robert Heath in 1979 as a Wood Fiber supplier for equestrian training surfaces. In five years’ time, Fibar had surfaced over 600 horse-training facilities in the United States. In 1986, the idea of using wood fiber for under playgrounds was proposed and researched. After testing, Robert found that wood fiber was substantially better at cushioning children's falls than sand, grass, dirt, or gravel, which were the current "safety" surfaces in most places at the time.
While continuing to surface equestrian centers, Fibar entered the playground surfacing business with the development of the FibarSystem, a system of all-natural, bark-free wood fiber made from virgin wood leftovers. The premier system is Fibar System 300 that includes a FibarFelt geotextile fabric layer, flexible FibarDrain strips for water drainage, and FibarMats with handicapped-accessible, beveled-edged rubber for heavy wear areas. Fibar also has other systems for extreme weather areas: FibarSystem 100 for extreme heat situations and FibarSystem 200 for areas with higher-than-average rainfall. Robert Heath has been awarded four patents for playground design and construction.
Utilizing their network of over 100 sales representatives, Fibar has brought its engineered wood fiber (EWF) surfacing systems to thousands of playgrounds each year. Most Fibar representatives are certified as a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). After nearly 25 years in business, they have installed over 50,000 play space surfaces in North America.1
Robert helped shape safety standards for playground surfacing by volunteering to serve on the ASTM International (ASTM) Surfacing Subcommittee F08.63. After the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990, Fibar sales increased since Fibar wood fibers knit together sufficiently to facilitate the use of wheelchairs and walkers.2
As the FibarSystems need to be topped off periodically to maintain their safety depth, Fibar offers EWF in bulk. Located in Armonk, New York, Fibar has 30 manufacturing plants throughout the United States.3
The Fibar product line has been expanded to include Fibar Poured-In-Place (PIP), a two layered surface; and the FibarIndoor play surface, a carpet with an engineered, recycled shock-absorbing foam.4 All products are International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) certified.
Fibar recently added an accessory product that beautifies and defines play spaces: molded FibarGuard borders manufactured from High-Density Polyethylene. They are offered in 4’ long sections that are 8” high and have a River Stone look on one side and Field Stone on the other, and also come in plain black.
- 1. “The Fibar Group LLC/About Us.” Fibar Inc. < http://fibar.com/playgrounds/about.htm > 22 Sep. 2010.
- 2. “The Fibar Group LLC/News & Links.” Fibar Inc. < http://fibar.com/Playgrounds/news.htm > 22 Sep. 2010.
- 3. Merrill, Lynn. “Getting Into the Grind: Innovations in Wood Processing.” Waste Age. < http://wasteage.com/mag/waste_getting_grind_innovations/ > 4 Aug. 2010.
- 4. Heath, Robert. “Brief History of Fibar.” Private email to Playground Professionals. 25 Jan. 2011.