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AEI Cables outlines technical guidance on Category 3 Control fire performance cables

23 June 2022

AEI CABLES has outlined the technical guidance available to those responsible in the supply chain for the selection and installation of cables for Category 3 Control fire performance cables under the revised British Standard.

The industry-wide campaign is raising awareness worldwide of the dangers of not using approved cabling as specified under the revised version of BS 8519: 2020, the Code of Practice for Category 3 Fire Performance Cables.

Industry bodies supporting the campaign include Electrical Safety First and the Institution of Fire Prevention Officers.

The systems powered by these cables – including smoke and heat extraction systems – assist Fire and Rescue Services in firefighting and a safe evacuation process. Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a real fire taking hold.

Typical applications

The application of Category 3 Control fire performance cables applies to evacuation alarms for the disabled in care homes, emergency voice communication systems and voice alarm systems in relevant buildings (among them tall buildings, office spaces, hospitals, Shopping Centres and stadiums).

The new Code of Practice informs and guides designers, contractors, fire engineers, regulators and enforcers including building control bodies, fire authorities, Health and Safety inspectors and equipment suppliers and manufacturers. It guides (and recommends) on the selection (and installation) of fire-resistant power and control cable systems that need to maintain their circuit integrity for life safety and firefighting.

The Code of Practice is primarily intended for use in those buildings which, due to their size, height, form or use require the installation of life safety and firefighting systems (eg sprinkler pumps, wet riser pumps, smoke control systems, firefighting and evacuation lifts or other systems as required by a fire engineering strategy).

Electrical distribution systems

BS 8519:2020 makes reference to the recommendations of BS 9999 and BS 9991 on the design and installation of the electrical distribution systems for life safety and firefighting equipment. It also refers to three categories of circuits required to maintain their integrity under defined fire conditions for varying fire survival times of 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 120 minutes.

Appropriate cable tests are identified for each cable category derived from applicable British Standards assessing cable performance under conditions of fire as might be expected in an actual fire incident.

BS 8519:2020 also aims to ensure that the level of circuit fire integrity is not compromised by other components of the whole electrical distribution system, including cable glands, terminations, joints and cable support systems.

By incorporating this guidance into the selection of cabling for these critical systems, those using new buildings can move about in the knowledge that they are going to be safe in doing so.

Lives and property at stake

Stuart Dover, general manager of AEI Cables, informed Fire Safety Matters: “If these systems fail because the cable is not able to function properly then the consequences are apparent. Lives and property are at stake here. Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a real fire.”

Dover added: “We have seen a lot of support for our message and our customers are seeing the peace of mind of installing approved cables, which themselves provide continuity of power for these systems.”

For its part, AEI Cables is the only supplier in the UK with independent approval from the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) for BS 8519 Category 3 Control fire performance cables with a fire survival time of up to 120 minutes.

AEI Cables’ Firetec enhanced cabling has been approved and certified by the LPCB to BS 8519 (Annex B) Category 3 Control in addition to Category 2 Control.

The Code of Practice under BS 8519 contains six categories of cables – three for power cables and three for control cables – each covering survival times of 30, 60 or 120 minutes.

*For more information visit the AEI Cables website at www.aeicables.co.uk