Carl Ghinn, Managing Director at Fixmart, explains why the introduction of Amendment 3 has led to an upsurge in the use of non-plastic ﬁxings.
This year marks the second anniversary since the publication of Amendment 3 to the 17th Edition of the IET wiring regulations. Introduced with the aim to directly improve personal safety and reduce the risk of ﬁres, Amendment 3 included speciﬁc changes to consumer units, changes to earth fault loop impedances for all protective devices, and updated EIC and EICR forms.
However, the most prominent change was to how professional electricians and contractors should install wiring in escape routes. This is deemed as any point that provides access for people to quickly exit a building to be safe from both fire and smoke.
Under the new guidelines, ﬁre-resistant fastenings and ﬁxings should support all cabling installations. In the event of ﬁre this should prevent escape routes from becoming blocked by the premature collapse of cabling installations, where extreme heat has melted their plastic ﬁxings. As a result, the sole use of plastic ﬁxings and cable ties no longer complies with the regulations. Ensuring all cable installations in escape routes are ﬁxed with ﬁre-resistant components will improve ﬁre safety for the occupants of the building, as well as ﬁre ﬁghters, ultimately saving lives.
Whilst Amendment 3 came into effect in July 2015, you can argue that these changes have taken their time to filter through to contractors on- site, and only now the industry as a whole has a clear understanding of the guidelines they’re expected to follow.
“At Fixmart we’ve noticed a growing demand for Fire Resistant Cable Fixings in response to Amendment 3.”
A shift from the ‘norm’
At Fixmart we’ve noticed a growing demand for Fire Resistant Cable Fixings in response to Amendment 3. Our customers are moving away from using traditional screws with plastic plugs or cable ties in favour of stainless steel cable ties and concrete screws.
Concrete screws are inserted directly into the concrete without the need for a plastic plug, providing a secure fixing that can withstand a fire. Whilst we’ve stocked these items for a number of years, we’ve recently witnessed a 124% year-on-year increase in stainless steel cable ties and a 198% year-on-year increase in concrete screws sales. Moving forward, we expect the demand for Amendment 3 compliant fixings to continue to grow.
Installers have typically seen stainless steel cable ties as an unnecessary expense, especially when their plastic cousins are so readily available from all wholesalers. However, they’re ideal to meet the requirements of Amendment 3 as they provide high strength, reliability and fire resistance. In the event of fire, they’re capable of withstanding temperatures of over 500°C, significantly reducing the risk of cable installations collapsing and causing blockages in escape routes.
It’s important to remember that any installation is only as strong as its weakest point, so it’s not worth using stainless steel cable ties if their fixing is still provided using a traditional screw and plastic plug. Therefore, a combination of stainless steel cable ties and concrete screws should be used for cable installations to provide essential support and reassurance.
Although Amendment 3 doesn’t mark the beginning of the end for plastic plugs or cable ties, as they can still be widely used for cable installations that don’t have to comply with the high fire safety standards set in Amendment 3, we could be witnessing the beginning of a shift from plastic ties to stainless steel on a far wider scale. Our sales figures would certainly suggest so!