Protecting your operations with secure safety engineering systems
Essential to any integrated building management system is a fully functioning business continuity plan. Safety engineering is critical in emergency systems design, forming a central part of any infrastructure.
Fire rated cables and components are fundamental to the successful, reliable and continued operation of your systems in the event of a fire.
Cable fire performance can be assessed for either: Fire resistance or Fire reaction. Both types of testing offer distinct indicators of performance in a fire scenario. The first is focused on the cable’s ability to resist fire and remain operable, often for a defined period, enabling the safe evacuation of occupants.
The second is focused on the cables’ reaction characteristics when exposed directly to a flame. Measurement of flame spread, flaming droplets, which can activate secondary fires, and acid gas and smoke emissions, which may impair occupants, are key to the classification of fire performance. The Construction Products Regulation defines reaction to fire testing. Compliance or classification is denoted by the CE or UKCA marking scale, with classification running from Aca to Fca.
Fire performance challenges
1. Safety engineering systems
Asset protection is critical in a fire scenario. Cabling infrastructures work to connect all essential components so that power, data or information can be energised, transmitted or recorded. In all modern buildings, including all those of an industrial, commercial or domestic nature, a host of cable products and types will be used to connect or operate various applications.
Some applications pose higher safety risks than others, and it is with this in mind that fire safety engineered systems are implemented to safeguard against or minimise impact risk.
Fire safety systems include automatic sensors, smoke, temperature or flame detectors, sprinkler systems, bells or alarms, strobe or emergency lighting, CCTV and surveillance systems, data storage or control panels, and terminals, switches, junction boxes, clips or ties.
2. Achieving optimal performance
Standards compliance is essential when it comes to fire performance and fire safety. If the wrong cable type is used in a fire-critical application, the risk of system faults or failure to operate in an emergency could be devastating.
- Fire resistance cables – performance is designed to operate systems which enable safe evacuation, which can be actioned with no delay.
- Enhanced fire resistance cables - used to power continued communications; performance is required before, during and after the event of a fire, where evacuations may be delayed, buildings may be split into zones, or cables run through critical signal paths.
- Fire reaction classified cables – evidence performance levels when subjected to fire conditions.
A combination of cable types should be used to match the importance of your end application. Do they continue to power or operate systems, or should they prevent the spread or likelihood of igniting secondary fires?
3. Fire regulation compliance
Following a number of serious fire accidents the regulation and higher compliance of fire performance and security have become a key priority for the cable industry and beyond. Public, systems, and operator safety is paramount.
Wiring regulations around the world, including the UK’s BS 7671, continue to amend and update regulations to incorporate essential fire safety changes.
Some of the latest additions include:
- Mandatory fire classification of cables for CPR compliance, denoted via a UKCA or CE marking and classification
- Fixed fire resistance cables and components in escape routes, designed to improve fire safety whilst also recognising the risks or dangers of collapsing cables or supports
- Regional mandating of specific classifications, with others implementing mirrored systems
- Integrated building management systems, ensuring adjacent components or systems to the cabling infrastructure are compatible
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