Fire poses a significant danger to life and property in any environment, but some are exposed to a much higher risk of it than others.
You can mitigate some of that risk by selecting the right cabling. When designing projects for fire safety and prevention, fire-resistant and halogen-free cables should be top of mind. Careful planning and an expert understanding of risk prevention can save lives as well as millions of dollars’ worth of equipment.
Fire-resistant vs. flame-retardant
Flame-retardant cables prevent fire from traveling along their length, limiting its spread. A good flame-retardant cable can lie in a fire without igniting for a pre-defined period of time, and self-extinguish when the external source of the flame is removed.
Fire-resistant or fire-rated cables, on the other hand, continue to operate even in the centre of a blaze, maintaining a functional circuit for a specific duration under conditions set out by the cable’s rating. As a result, they are commonly referred to as circuit integrity cables. Fire-resistant cables depend on a variety of design features to achieve this categorisation, including specialised materials, thicker insulation layers, and protective coatings.
Hospitals, residential and commercial buildings, schools, warehouses, underground tunnelling, and marine or offshore structures are all prime candidates for fire-resistant cabling. Wherever it is critical that circuits remain operational during a fire, such as for emergency lighting, fire alarms, and other life safety systems, high-quality fire-resistant cables are absolutely essential.
There are three main halogenated elements – fluorine, chlorine, and bromine – which can be found in various traditional cable-insulation and jacketing materials, such as Teflon and PVC. They have often been used in flame-resistive packaging, as they perform well under specific flame-testing conditions.
When exposed to fire, however, halogen wires and cables give off toxic fumes that can destroy expensive electronic equipment and, more worryingly, cause serious health concerns if they’re inhaled. In some scenarios, air distribution systems may transmit life-threatening fumes throughout a site and, when combined with moisture, these acidic gases can cause severe bodily damage, as well as confusion and disorientation that may hinder victims from finding safety.
Another thing to consider is smoke emission, which is also a danger to life. Data shows that halogen-insulated cabling results in more smoke release during a fire than halogen-free cables. This is significant because up to 80% of all fire-related deaths are caused by toxic fumes and smoke inhalation.
Choosing the right cabling
Navigating different cable properties and applications can be a challenge. As the categories of fire-resistant cables vary, and approval ratings and testing standards differ depending on the region or country, purchasing the right cables for each specific use case and geography is not only critically important but also dependent on deep knowledge and experience.
JJ-LAPP’s expertise and superior range of cable choice offers our customers the confidence of knowing their site is suitably equipped.
Contact us to ensure your project has risk prevention built in from the word go.