Fire resistant cables, as the name suggests, are cabling designed to survive exposure to flames according to a series of standard parameters, as defined by regulations both local and international. These parameters, expressed in performance as required by law, are critical to passing safety inspections in companies, manufacturing sites, and other environments exposed to fire. In this article, we will try to understand what fire resistant cables are, what are the main characteristics that make them fireproof, and, finally, what are their main uses.
Fire resistant cables: what are they?
By definition, a fire-resistant cable is characterized by the ability to maintain its functionality even during a fire or in case of sudden exposure to flames or very high temperatures. The type of resistance, however, is not the same for all fire-resistant cables since it varies according to the different international standards. In fact, in addition to these standards, one must consider the most important safety feature, i.e., the cable’s survival time during a fire.
This resistance performance is measured by time intervals, i.e., minute intervals within which the cable can resist flames. Based on the type of resistance, the cable will receive an assigned value that will determine its grade and, therefore, its reliability and robustness in case of danger.
Cable resistance values
The intervals are as follows:
- 15 minutes
- 30 minutes
- 60 minutes
- 90 minutes
- 120 minutes
These resistance values have been standardized at the European and international levels with uniform performance scales, such as IEC and CENELEC. Therefore, when a company is about to purchase fire-resistant cables from a specialized but foreign-based company, it will necessarily have to check for equivalent certifications.
Differences between international standards
While the use of fire-resistant cables is subject to strict regulatory discipline in each country, the exact standards vary from area to area. Thus, even if a cable is considered compliant in Europe, it may not be so in America.
To compare different international standards, it is necessary to refer to a range of certifications that are generally divided by continent with some leeway. For example, America requires CENELEC certifications, whereas in Europe the equivalent certification is issued by the IEC. In China, on the other hand, the main certification to refer to is the CCC. All these acronyms involve several small variations in terms of quality and safety standards, but recently international institutions have initiated plans to standardize them to provide easy reading for those in the industry. However, the time intervals listed above are the same in every part of the world. Read more about 8 Electrical Safety Checks Every Small Business Owner Needs To Stay Safe.
What are fire-resistant cables for?
These cables, as can be easily guessed, are intended for use at facilities of various kinds to meet a specific need: to ensure the operation of the infrastructure even in the event of a fire and for as long as possible.
This means that fire resistant cables are mostly intended for power supply and, generally, for use at civil engineering facilities. These cables are intended to limit the spread of flame and smoke and as seen earlier, must meet specific local and international safety standards.
They are installed where the law requires high fire safety standards, i.e., in emergency lighting systems, fire detection alarms, automatic door openers, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, emergency telephone systems, and so on.
Basically, they are used in all those places where the presence of fire can be dealt with by prompt assistance solutions, and electrical and communication networks need to stay functional for as long as possible.