Date posted: 23 April 2018 – Category: Cabling Services
The need for stronger legislative measures regarding fire safety has been brought into sharp focus in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. This includes safety regulations on all construction materials, including cabling and it’s something, we here at TVNET Limited are constantly keeping an eye on.
In this guide, I want to look at the latest EU regulation, the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), and how it affects data cabling in domestic and commercial buildings.
According to the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI), 18% of all accidental fires in England were attributed to wiring, cabling, or plugs and of that number, 51% were caused by faulty electrical supplies. More government statistics reveal that 10% of casualties and 4% of deaths were caused by fire due to a building’s structures and fittings.
The focus is now on eradicating substandard cabling from the market entirely. The pressing need for robust regulation, backed up by a strong regulator with the power to impose significant fines and penalties for non-compliance has been highlighted by a BBC investigation that found that 11 million metres of dangerous electrical cables were sold to the UK. To date, only 7 million metres have been recovered.
The most recent legislation regarding cabling safety standards is the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and this is something we’re going to look at in this blog post.
The Construction Products Directive (CPD) of 1989 was introduced to EU countries too, among others, regulate the quality of construction products. In 2011, the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) replaced the CPD.
In July 2017 the original CPD was expanded to include performance specifications that will now detail how cables react to fire. This update is intended to standardise all cable specifications across EU countries in a universal classification structure now called “Euroclasses.”
This new classification includes Euroclasses A to F (A-class cables have the least reaction to fire, while F-class cables have the most), as well as other quality considerations. Any cable that is a permanent installation will fall under CPR regulations. This includes power, as well as data and communication cables. For the latter, fibre, coax, multi-conductor and copper cables are covered. Patch leads are the exception. Cables designed for connecting appliances or the internal wiring of equipment/appliances are also excluded.
The amended CPR aims to improve building safety, especially against fires, by standardising performance characteristics of construction products across all EU nations. Cables are covered by the CPR since these are permanently included in the construction work and are the only electrical product among all construction products.
Here’s how the CPR can prevent fires:
Every layer in the supply chain is now legally bound to comply with CPR regulations. This includes:
The new CPR update also calls for cables to be tested according to their reactions to fire. This includes smoke production, flaming droplets, acid gas production, heat release and light transmittance.
All cable products should have their own classification codes before going to market.
When looking for CPR-compliant cables, you should also look at their Euroclass categorisation. These classifications (refer to image above) will give you an idea how a certain type of cable would react to fire.
Note that the higher qualification the cable is, the more expensive it becomes due to the difference in materials used.
The Declaration of Performance, as mentioned earlier, is provided by the manufacturer. It is a legal document that should be available to the public and to any purchaser.
To make sure a cable is Euroclass-compliant, an independent assessment of the product will be conducted. A DoP will then be issued should products pass testing.
The DoP will include the manufacturer’s name, product code, the product’s use, and the cable’s performance with regards to fire, among others. Without the DoP, cable products will not receive the CE marking.
For a sample of a compliant product, look at the image below:
According to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the rapid growth of the fire was accelerated by the exterior cladding of the building. Whilst it’s important to state, therefore, that the CPR wouldn’t have prevented the Grenfell fire, the tragedy does highlight the need for robust and strong regulation on all construction materials and building fittings, internal and external, including electrical cabling.
For that reason, we at TV Net will remain strong proponents of the CPR.
If you need advice on fibre optic and structured data cabling and all related safety regulations then get in touch with one of our experts today.
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Matt Nice, Director of ICT, Bristol Grammar School