Where there is smoke, there is Fire?

Fire Resistant Cable has always been a contentious issue, especially in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, etc. But it seems that the market has become a free-for-all when it comes to supplying PH30 and PH120 Cable. Cables used for fire detection differ from cables used for other services. Fire Resistant Cables are designed to provide circuit integrity during the fire while exposed to high temperatures. These cables are carrying power and data to alarm sounders and visible fire indications during the fire to ensure people in all areas of the building can evacuate safely.

Fires have a high cost in terms of loss of human life and damages to industrial plants, structures, and other property. Research states that the most commonly identified cause of death from a fire accident is being overcome by gas or smoke. One should not cut corners when installing a piece of cable that could, in the end, be responsible for the life of a human being. Never has the saying been more true “penny wise, pound foolish” or even more concerning “life foolish”! We are seeing more and more CCA (Copper Coated Aluminium) cables being sold in the market, there is a massive difference in how firstly power or data is conducted over Copper cable vs Aluminium cable and secondly and more importantly how Aluminium reacts to heat vs Copper. Due to suppliers cutting corners, and contractors being put under pressure to provide cheapest possible price, CCA cable is being dumped in the market more and more these days, not only in fire-resistant cable but in other communication cables as well. The BS EN50200:2015 testing standard is seen as the benchmark test for the fire resistance of cable including PH30 and PH120 fire-resistant cable. Although many of the PH30 and PH120 cables available in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, has this standard printed on the sheath of the cable, it is merely that, printed on the sheath with no proper evidence of conforming to this standard.

We do have a third-party certification and testing authority with the needed certification and testing equipment to verify if the cable you are buying conforms to the BS EN50200:2015 standards.

Other considerations to keep in mind when deciding on which cable to use:

  1. The overall thickness of the cable, is your pathways big enough?

  2. The overall construction of the cable, will the sheath stay intact when pulling through pathways?

  3. Is the insulation over the Copper cores fire resistant silicone rubber or PVC?

  4. Is the overall sheath HFFR (Halogen Free Flame Retardant)?

  5. What’s the weight of the same amount of cable? Aluminum is much lighter.

  6. What’s the price you pay for the cable? Counterfeit cables are often sold well below the average price.

Luke Han