Wrexham Mineral Cables (WMC) has called on contractors and installers to play their part in improving building safety by increasing their understanding of the performance capabilities of fire-resistant cables.
The UK manufacturer of ‘fire-resistant’, or what the company prefers to call ‘Fire Survival’, mineral insulated cables says it is vital that the stresses real-life fire scenarios have on ‘fire-resistant’ cables are recognised so they can identify products that will truly withstand a critical situation.
In order to meet the requirements of a fire-resistant cable, products must meet the British Standard appropriate to their type of fire-resistant cable, such as BS50200, BS8434, BS8519 and BS6387. All of these standards have a variant of time and temperature the cables are tested at under fire conditions, ranging from a 30 minute rated cable tested at 830oC to a three-hour rated cable tested at 940oC.
However, Wrexham Mineral Cables Commercial Manager, Steve Williams, says building safety could take a step forward if contractors and installers play a more active role in delivering change. Moreover, says the company, this will require an increased awareness of the tests individual products undergo in order to obtain their fire resistance certification.
For example, only ‘fire-resistant’ cables that are greater in diameter than 20mm must undergo testing for direct impacts and water testing with any significant pressure on a single test sample. For ‘fire-resistant’ cables under 20mm, different stages of the test are carried out on different samples of cable, whilst exposure to water is minimal.
He comments: “There has been a real drive across the construction industry to make everybody in the supply chain more accountable throughout the various stages of the building’s existence. Fire survival cables are a vital component of building safety, yet because there is a lack of understanding about the important role they play in keeping buildings safe, all too often inferior cables are installed. The sad reality is these cables are not likely to be adequate in the event of a fire, putting lives at risk.
“In an era of greater accountability, there should be no compromise; we can no longer aim for minimum compliance to get the job done. Whilst we believe there should be a higher classification of cables introduced to identify those which can survive, rather than simply resist fire, greater understanding of performance capabilities, particularly amongst contractors and installers, would go a long way to ensuring high performance products were used in every project.
“As a market leader, we are committed to raising standards and are working hard to educate people – whether they are just starting out in their career or have many years’ experience – about the benefits of specifying ‘true’ fire survival cables. It is for this reason we offer training to students and experienced contractors – showing how we make and test our cables and demonstrating how they compare to other products – so they can be sure they are using a solution which is fit for purpose.”