Following on from the second anniversary of its introduction, Paul Ruddick, founder of D-Line Cable Management, explains why Amendment 3 has had a positive impact on fire-safety.
Back in July 2015 the IET published the requirement that ‘Wiring systems in escape routes shall be supported in
such a way that they will not be liable to premature collapse in event of fire’. In other words, new installations of cables on escape routes should not rely on traditional plastic cable management, which disintegrates at around 160°C, as a sole means of support.
After collapsed cables had contributed to nine fatalities, including horrific cable entanglements, it was a call-to-action for all cable installers to use fire-rated fixings in at least escape routes of commercial properties, and in the hallways, stairways and above doorways of residential buildings too. Now two years on, it seems fair to comment that the industry has responded very positively to the requirement…
On the supply side, D-Line, the company that invented the first clips specifically for use in PVC trunking, notably broadened its range of Safe-D clips with easy-install options for mini-trunking sizes up to 50mm wide. Other manufacturers are providing fire-rated saddles for conduits, and alternative styles of fire clips, while fixings such as DeWalt WallDOGs eliminate need for plastic wall-plugs.
With many potentially life-saving and inexpensive solutions now available, the industry needs to be wary of untested options without proper test certifications. There are metallic varieties stating performance only up to 435°C, and stainless steel solutions only 538°C, but fires often reach 900°C+. Alloys using non-traceable compositions might appear the cheapest option, but offer no guarantees of fire performance.
On the demand side, volumes and specifications have continued to increase – in spite of some confusion of what might constitute an escape route, and where and when compliance is required.
18th Edition changes
A preview of IET’s pending 18th Edition Wiring Regulations details a further broadening of requirements so that cables should be properly secured not only in escape routes. This will surely eliminate queries, so fire-fighting and evacuations can be unimpeded by risk of dropped cables, in all areas for new installations.
Whilst it is perhaps impractical for the 18th Edition (and Building Regulations too) to stipulate the retro-fitting of fire clips, we appreciate how it would further eliminate confusion if there is a stipulation that products have been
tested and certified as ‘fit for purpose’, for example to BS5839 Part 1 standards, and able to withstand 970°C for two hours. We hope that the legacy of lives lost helps to create a culture that prioritises safety in the product selection and installation practices of all who can make the difference.