Cabling and fire safety electrical installations

The fire safety of electrical installations is integral to building security. Cabling plays a vital role in fire resistance. Flame retardant cables must self-extinguish within set parameters to resist fire spread. Fire-resistant (fire-rated cables) maintain circuit integrity and work for specified periods under pre-defined conditions.

Cabling manufacturers must make it easy for building designers, product specifiers, and building contractors to identify and install cables suitable for survival in real-life fire conditions. There is growing awareness of the need to follow the latest building regulations and product specifications and consider all stages of a building’s lifecycle and maintenance.

For cables to do their job, they need to have fire resistance tested rigorously. There are tests for fire with water. Fire-resistant cables are tested for direct impacts and water jets. A fire survival classification is available for cables which can continue to power critical circuits. In the event of a fire, these cables must withstand falling debris, wall collapse, fire hoses pressure, the activation of high-pressure sprinklers and smoke extraction ventilation and more.

A cable’s fire survival is essential for building safety. Accurately measuring tolerances and specifying cables starts at the building design stage. Changes to British Standards highlight that some existing fire-resistant cables might not survive direct impacts during a fire. For example, some older fire alarms and fire safety systems might not meet the current building control standards. There is an argument, therefore, to upgrade building cabling regularly.

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