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February 10, 2022

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The 2022 State of Physical Access Control Report

Fire performance cables

The importance of using approved Category 3 Control fire performance cables

The importance of using only approved products which meets the latest regulations for fire safety cannot be emphasised enough as buildings become more complex using modern materials. Here, Stuart Dover, General Manager of AEI Cables, explains the significance of a new Code of Practice for Category 3 Control fire performance cables.

The signal and control equipment systems powered by Category 3 Control fire performance cables – including smoke and heat extraction systems – assist fire services in firefighting and a safe evacuation in the case of life safety.

Simply put, some of these systems will not survive in a fire if a sub-standard cable is installed.

To make the point, we draw attention to the new Code of Practice for Category 3 Control fire performance cables under BS 8519: 2020, which covers how to select and install fire-resistant power and control cable systems that, in the event of a fire, will maintain their circuit integrity for life safety and fire-fighting.

The new Code is intended to inform and guide designers, contractors, fire engineers, regulators and enforcers including building control bodies, fire authorities, Health and Safety inspectors and equipment suppliers and manufacturers.

The gives guidance and recommendations on the selection and installation of fire-resistant power and control cable systems that need to maintain their circuit integrity for life safety and fire-fighting.

It is primarily intended for use in buildings which, due to their size, height, form or use, require the installation of life safety and firefighting systems, e.g. sprinkler pumps, wet riser pumps, smoke control systems, firefighting and evacuation lifts or other systems as required by a fire engineering strategy.

Customers, the wider fire safety industry and professionals have welcomed our message, including the professional fire safety membership body, the Institution of Fire Prevention Officers (IFPO).

We feel strongly about this issue as a matter of safety and compliance. Using inferior types of cable for these applications is dangerous and posing a major risk. We are receiving a very positive response from customers who appreciate the information on an issue of such importance.

Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a real fire.

Indeed, these cables also help fire and rescue services to fight a fire and evacuate people in the event of an incident, so we shouldn’t underestimate their importance.

The standard clearly references and clarifies the products and levels of performance that should be used from specifiers to contractors and installers.

We have received wide support for this information and the efforts we are making in the interests of safety for all concerned from the supply chain through to those responsible and the public using buildings in which these systems operate.

As the only supplier in the UK with independent approval from LPCB for BS8519 Category 3 Control fire performance cables with a fire survival time of up to 120 minutes, AEI Cables is issuing the warning to all concerned, particularly those making decisions about fire safe products and systems.

Construction-Highrise-FireCables-22

Under the detail of the revised standard, the practical applications of Category 3 Control fire performance cables extend to evacuation alarms for the disabled in care homes, emergency voice communications systems and voice alarm systems in relevant buildings including tall buildings, office spaces, hospitals, care homes, shopping malls and stadia.

BS 8519:2020 makes reference to the recommendations of BS 9999 and BS 9991, with regard to the design and installation of the electrical distribution systems for life safety and firefighting equipment.

It also makes reference to three categories of circuits required to maintain their circuit integrity under defined fire conditions for varying fire survival times of 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 120 minutes.

Appropriate cable tests are identified for each cable category derived from applicable British Standards assessing cable performance under conditions of fire as might be expected in an actual fire incident.

Finally, BS 8519:2020 aims to ensure that the level of circuit fire integrity is not compromised by other components of the whole electrical distribution system, including cable glands, terminations, joints and cable support systems.

By incorporating this guidance into the selection of cabling for these critical systems, those using these striking new buildings can move about safe in the knowledge that they are safe.

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