The critical role of approved fire performance cabling

Graham Turner

National sales manager, AEI Cables

January 9, 2019

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As new buildings become increasingly complex, those making decisions in the supply chain need to know that products they’re specifying are safe and compliant, meeting all recognised specifications.

To meet these design challenges, and with the inquiry into the Grenfell disaster still ongoing, it’s the use of the very latest technology and science that is taking enhanced fire performance cabling to a new level.

Calls have been made by the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI) for all cable used in the UK to conform to relevant British, European or international standards amid growing concern about the volume of non-approved cables coming onto the market.

The number of fires in high-rise buildings in Europe and the Middle East have brought the issue of product quality for fire performance circuits into sharp focus.

At AEI Cables, we have brought our research and development into one place under the Total Fire Solutions range of Firetec products. Installers have welcomed the development of this new generation of fire performance cabling, which ensures critical fire-safety circuits can continue to operate in the event of a fire for at least 30 minutes, up to 120 minutes.

For critical alarm circuits in buildings where large numbers of people move about – many of whom can be vulnerable – there can be no greater priority than safety.

Power continuity means firefighters can continue to read fire alarm system information that directs them to the seat of the fire and helps locate anyone still in the building

For the fire and rescue services, power continuity means they can continue to read fire alarm system information that directs them to the seat of the fire and helps locate anyone still in the building.

Hospitals, schools, shopping malls or airports may have complex addressable loop fire alarm systems which provide information on individual detectors. Conventional systems only provide information about specific circuits or zones.

The addressable systems feature a fire control panel which receives information and status reports from each device, indicating its exact location and if there is a fire, a fault, heat or contamination.

The cabling chosen for these systems is therefore critical. If the power to these alarm systems fails because cabling does not meet required performance standards then the information available for fire and rescue services is directly affected – and with it the chance of finding people in the building.

The standard and enhanced cables in the Total Fire Solutions range are tubed, making them easier for contractors to install. They are all UV stable and come with a hard insulant to resist fault generation over time.

Responsibility for choosing the right system lies with the ‘responsible person’ under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in business or any other non-domestic premises. This could be the owner, employer, landlord, facilities manager or building manager.

As the responsible person, he or she must carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises, review it regularly and put in place and maintain appropriate fire safety measures.

Ultimately, the responsible person faces fines or prison if they fail to follow these measures and there is a fire.

Standards and testing regimes

Any items or products that go into these fire safety systems must be covered by standards set by national, European and international bodies. These certify that products will perform their function and operate as expected in real-life fire conditions.

In support of these standards, cable industry bodies provide testing regimes to ensure that different types of cable are fit for purpose and meet these standards when tested in fire conditions.

The Total Fire Solutions range of cables meets all relevant industry standards including ISO 9001 and is approved by the leading industry organisations nationally and worldwide including BASEC and LPCB.

Installers, or those procuring cables, must check the cable when it arrives to make sure it is exactly what was specified.

For some buildings, it is crucial to select the highest quality products to meet the most rigorous third-party tests and real-life fire scenarios. These include environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes where older people and children move about.

Specifiers looking at new large public sector projects such as hospitals should refer to BS 8519 for the electrical supply and the most relevant cabling system.

The Firetec Total Fire Solutions package offers Mineral Insulated Cables (MIC), Firetec Standard, Firetec Enhanced, Firetec Power and Firetec Impact Power along with the full range of accessories for all fire performance applications.

Applications include residential and commercial buildings, shopping malls, airports and protected buildings with a heritage ensuring that fire alarms, sprinkler systems, building monitoring and security systems can continue to operate in a fire.

Successful installation of Firetec has included the Francis Crick Institute research centre in London, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, White City complex in London and Meadowhall shopping complex, Sheffield.

Instances of unsafe non-approved cable continue to come to light. Unsafe flexible cord, intended for use in domestic and industrial applications, has been found on sale in the UK recently, prompting the ACI to issue a fresh alert to the electrical supply chain. The latest find of substandard flexible cords is marked ‘Made in Turkey’ and ‘Ermaks’.

Samples came to light following the initiative’s recent `Counterfeit Flexible Cords’ campaign, which alerted the electrical supply chain to dangerous industrial flexible cords.

We in the supply chain should all be vigilant to watch out and report these instances of non-compliant cabling wherever we see or suspect they have been installed, while developing only the safest products and systems of our own. We shouldn’t forget that we all have a duty and a responsibility where lives and property are at stake.

 

Free download: Fire Safety Guide

Business owners have many responsibilities, but the consequences of neglecting your fire safety responsibilities are potentially unthinkable.

Know your fire safety responsibilities. Download this guide to get:

  • A beginner’s guide to the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order
  • Your guide to fire risk assessments
  • Further guides covering fire doors, fire alarm systems, smoke detectors, fire escape signs, sprinklers, water-mist systems and fire safety training

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Walt Listas
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Walt Listas

Well written and informative Graham

Tom roberts
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Tom roberts

Good comments however it is my view from many yearsexperience, there can be no room for error and only cables meeting 120min as a minimum should be commisioned into fire installations. Only micc will exceed these expectations.