Mark Williams, Lead Marketing Manager at Legrand UK & Ireland, discusses the issue of fire safety in cable management systems and suggests how electrical professionals can ensure their buildings are meeting customer requirements.
Fire safety remains a key and sometimes confusing issue when specifying building infrastructure, including cable management systems. However, despite these systems being fundamental to modern building design, there is no single British standard that applies to cable management in relation to fire safety.
Since the Grenfell disaster, which has contributed to changes in the regulatory landscape, our cable management team has been frequently asked about the fire ratings of our cable management products. For designers and installers of cable management systems, there is now a growing need for a clearer understanding of requirements for cable management systems in relation to fire.
It is understandable that there can be confusion when navigating the regulatory environment. Steel cable management systems are widely used in construction projects and steel is categorised as A1 by the Construction Products Association (CPA), meaning it doesn’t contribute to the spread of fire in buildings.
The fire safety regulations that are in place trace the history of tragic fires and are there to regulate a pathway to safety. While the progress in this area has been pivotal in improving safety in buildings, it’s not as clear as many in the industry would want. It is therefore necessary that the industry takes a proactive approach to fire safety and ensures that cable management systems are tested to as high a standard as possible.
For those who specify or install cable management systems, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of fire safety and the implications that product selection can have on a construction project.
Tried and tested
For manufacturers, it is becoming increasingly important that, despite the lack of a harmonised standard for testing cable management products in the event of fire, they can evidence their products’ performance in a fire situation. This can offer peace of mind to all stakeholders.
To satisfy customers’ safety expectations, it can be beneficial to look to other standards as a helpful benchmark against which to test products. For example, in Germany there is a standard test circuit integrity cabling that allows cable management manufacturers to fire test their products in a true to life installation.
The DIN4102-12 standard can expose building components, such as cable management systems, to fire for in excess of 90 minutes and reaches a temperature of up to 1,000°C by the test’s conclusion. Swifts cable tray and ladder from Legrand, along with Salamandre distribution trunking, are examples of solutions that have been proven to withstand fire having been tested under DIN 4102-12 test conditions.
When designing cable management pathways within buildings in the UK, it is of course paramount to follow the methodology and directions of UK standards. For customers that may require evidenced fire testing of cable management systems, it can be beneficial to specify solutions that have been tested to the DIN 4102-12 standard for the additional peace of mind this extra testing allows.
Regardless, it will likely fall to electrical designers and installers to explain the importance of fire rating, inevitably putting further emphasis on the need to keep on top of training opportunities.
To stay informed on fire safety, electrical professionals need to actively engage with the training and education opportunities available.
To support the industry, Legrand has created a host of resources, available for free, to encourage best practice. This includes its Creating Cable Pathways guide, which explains how to ensure cable management will not contribute to the spread of fire or premature collapse, and the Fire Safety and Cable Management white paper. There are also several CPDs on fire safety that further cover cable pathways, compliance and containment, which can all be completed for free through Legrand’s Training Academy.
Included in the available CPD portfolio is the recently launched Premature collapse and fire rated containment seminar which explores the current UK standards landscape that applies to cable management systems. The CPD can be undertaken virtually or at Legrand’s training facilities in London or Birmingham, and covers fire prevention, construction product regulations and wiring regulations.
Too often, the issue of fire safety is evaluated in response to events in which fires have caused fatalities. It is therefore vital that the electrical industry is proactive when it comes to fire safety, taking the time to understand the products available and the standards they’re tested against.
Get more details on Legrand’s fire safety training and resources here