On July 1, 2017, Regulation No. 305/2011 of the EU Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 defining specific conditions for the marketing of construction products, also known as the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), came into force. By introducing a uniform technical language for describing the performance of construction products, the regulation aims to ensure access to information allowing reliable comparison of product parameters of different manufacturers and to increase the safety of buildings by requiring the use of tested and appropriately classified construction products, e.g. cables and wires tested for their reaction to fire.
A group of products such as power, control and telecommunication cables that are permanently installed in buildings and structures are treated as construction products and are subject to the fire safety guidelines set out in the CPR.
This document informs us that in the case of fire safety, building structures must be designed and constructed in such a way that if a fire breaks out:
Manufacturers of cabling are supported by standard PN-EN 50575 Power, control and telecommunication cables and wires - Cables and wires for general applications in construction works with specified fire resistance class.
The above standard specifies requirements for reaction to fire, test methods and evaluation of power, control, telecommunication and optical fibre cables and wires used in construction works and subject to requirements for reaction to fire.
As of July 1, 2017, cable manufacturers are required to include another piece of information on their products, the so-called Class of Fire Reaction that the cable meets. This parameter is also referred to as class:
Reaction to fire is defined as the influence of a given product on the development of fire by it's own decomposition in the fire action, to which the product is subjected in defined conditions.
PN-EN 50575 standard specifies division into 7 different classes of reaction to fire, according to letter and number designations introduced by PN-EN 13501-6 standard.
Fig. Fire resistance classes
The table below shows the test methods used for the appropriate class of fire response.
Table 1: Test methods for reaction to fire classes (source: Polska Norma PN-EN 50575 Kable i przewody elektroenergetyczne, sterownicze i telekomunikacyjne. Kable i przewody do zastosowań ogólnych w obiektach budowlanych o określonej klasie odporności ogniowej)
a – EN 50399 provides all information previously identified as FIPEC20 Scenario 1 and FIPEC20 Scenario 2;
b – specific test conditions apply according to EN 50399 for Class B1ca;
c – additional classification tests;
d – all information previously given in EN 50267-2-3 is given in EN 60754-2.
The following table shows additional parameters to classify the cabling in terms of fire response, such as::
s – amount of smoke generated during combustion,
a – acidity of gases generated during combustion,
d – amount of burning drops/particles generated during combustion.
Table 2: Additional classes of reaction to fire performance for power cables and criteria to be fulfilled (source: Kable elektryczne stosowane w budynkach. Wymagania dotyczące reakcji na ogień. Instytut Techniki Budowlanej, Warszawa 2020)
In the case of classes Aca, Eca and Fca no additional designation for the parameters s,a,d is used, while the information about the reaction to fire class from B1ca to Dca should be presented in the extended form, for example Dca - s2,d1,a3. In case of lack of indication of supplementary parameters, it is assumed that fire reaction class of a duct fulfils the lowest requirement in a given range, i.e. s3, a3 or d2 for flaming droplets/particles or the most stringent requirements, i.e. s1, a1 or d0 for flaming droplets/particles. For example, Dca -s2,d1 is equivalent to Dca -s2,d1,a3. It is also worth remembering that the requirements have been specified in such a way that cabling which meets the requirements of one class also falls within the range of lower classes.
Table 3. Additional criteria for reaction to fire classes
ASSMANN's production range includes the DIGITUS® series of installation cables in class B2ca, cat.7 and cat.7A, S/FTP with the symbols DK-1745-VH and DK-1745-A-VH. The B2ca compliant portfolio also includes U/UTP cat.6A installation cables with part numbers DK-1616-A-VH, F/UTP cat.6 cables with symbols DK-1626-VH and U/UTP cat.6 cables DK-1616-VH respectively.
Fig. DK-1626-VH-5 Cat.6 Installation Cable, F/UTP, B2ca, AWG 23/1, LSOH, 500m
Manufacturers of cabling covered by harmonized standards CPR, i.e. products classified as construction products (permanently installed in buildings, constructions) are obliged to issue a Declaration of Performance (DoP) in accordance with CPR template when they place their products on the market in the European Union. The regulation specifies what information should be included in the DoP declaration. This includes the following data:
Ways of assessment and verification of constancy of performance of products, PN-EN 50575 standard defines the following systems and requirements dedicated to them:
Table 4: AVCP Systems (source: Polska Norma PN-EN 50575 Kable i przewody elektroenergetyczne, sterownicze i telekomunikacyjne. Kable i przewody do zastosowań ogólnych w obiektach budowlanych o określonej klasie odporności ogniowej)
When issuing declaration of performance and affixing CE marking, manufacturer of cabling shall include in the CPD information about applied AVCP system of assessment and verification of constancy of performance of the product. As follows from the table above, only the notified body certifying products having the status of system 1+ can carry out tests to determine classes Aca, B1ca, B2ca and Cca of reaction to fire.
CE marking is affixed visibly and indelibly on the construction product, it's label, it's packaging or accompanying documents.
While the Declaration of Performance is imposed by CPR 305/2011, the EU Declaration of Conformity is used to confirm that the cabling complies with the essential regulations, i.e. the New Approach Directives.
In some situations, it may be necessary for a manufacturer to prepare for a given product both a Declaration of Performance, i.e. the CPD, and an EU Declaration of Conformity.
The required reaction to fire class of cables varies depending on the purpose and height of the building in which they are used, the type of fire zone, the installation location and how the cables are routed - individually or in a bundle. Cables which are installed in fire resistant enclosures or ducts should have the reaction to fire class at least Eca. It is permissible to use fire-spreading cables in buildings provided that they are covered with plaster of at least 5 mm thickness.
Such solution prevents the spread of flame on the cables.
Division of buildings by purpose and use is defined by § 209, Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure of 12 April 2002 on the technical conditions to be met by buildings and their location.
According to the regulation, buildings are divided into:
Buildings defined as ZL are further divided into:
Buildings defined as PM refer to:
garages, hydroelectric plants, boiler plants, heat exchanges, electrical switchboards, transformer stations, telephone exchanges, and other similar uses.
Buildings defined as IN refer to:
buildings in farm buildings with a gross volume not exceeding 1500 m3, such as barns, crop storage buildings and outbuildings.
The group of buildings listed in § 213 of the Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure of 12 April 2002 on technical conditions to be met by buildings and their location includes:
1. up to three overground storeys:
2. detached houses up to two overground storeys inclusive:
3. detached garages with no more than 2 parking spaces;
4. livestock buildings with a gross volume of up to 1500 m3 .
Recommended requirements for the selection of cables with the appropriate class of reaction to fire depending on the type and type of building, is currently presented in two commercially available studies, namely:
A detailed description of the recommendations discussed is presented in Tables 4 and 5.
Table 5. Additional requirements on reaction to fire performance of cables. Spread of flames (fire) on cables installed in bundles (source: Kable elektryczne stosowane w budynkach. Wymagania dotyczące reakcji na ogień. Instytut Techniki Budowlanej, Warszawa 2020)
Table 6. Additional requirements for the reaction to fire performance of cables. Spread of flames (fire) on individually installed cables (source: Kable elektryczne stosowane w budynkach. Wymagania dotyczące reakcji na ogień. Instytut Techniki Budowlanej, Warszawa 2020)
Table 7. Required class of reaction-to-fire performance for cables and other general purpose cables installed outside and within escape routes in buildings of certain types (source: Norma N SEP-E-007:2017-09 Instalacje elektroenergetyczne i teletechniczne w budynkach. Dobór kabli oraz innych przewodów ze względu na ich reakcję na ogień.)
EU regulations force certification of construction products by manufacturers, including cables and wires, before they are placed on the market. The basis for obtaining the CE mark is the declaration of performance. It puts on manufacturer full responsibility for ensuring declared parameters, which are especially important from fire protection point of view.
In case of structural cabling, the most important thing is to use products with reaction to fire class in accordance with regulations, so that the creation and spreading of fire and smoke in buildings is limited to minimum.