Devil Is In The Details For Fire Rated Cables

On Tuesday 7/28/2015 I did a presentation to the IAEI chapter meeting in Las Vegas NV, the attendees included local inspectors, contractors, engineers and a UL representative. We discussed the UL 2196 testing program for “Electrical Circuit Integrity Systems”, since the suspension occurred in Sept of 2012, UL has been testing to an “Interim Program”  which is far more stringent that the previous requirements. Overall, this new program has improved the confidence level in the safety of the systems, and now there are important details in each manufacturer’s fire rated cable listing that are requirements for an appropriate installation.

The RHW product that was once prolific in the market, does have a listing but it is unlikely to install it with respect to the listing as well as the NEC. Some of the challenges are:

  • No approved ground wires. The listing indicates how many cables you can install in a specific conduit, but it does not allow you to use a smaller grounding or bonding conductor.  For example 3- 350MCM cables in conduit would likely require a #4 ground. The listing does not allow for this.
  • No approved pull point.  The listing is remarkable clear about details of Conduit brand and Connector brand, but there is something oddly missing- A qualified pull box or LB.  This means that you cannot do more than 360 degrees of bends.
  • Vertical Runs – Limited to 37’ between terminating points.   This will not get you too far in a high rise building.
  • Horizontal 2Hrs
  • Vertical 1hr
  • UL Reference Document (click here)

MI Cables- In the market for over 50 yrs

MC Cables – In the market for over 17 yrs

After going through these details with this group it was great to see that I really helped some people understand this better.   I again am more confident in all of these systems abilities to perform in fire conditions, we just have to be respectful of the limitations that are cited.  The limitations are there likely because the cables did not pass as originally tested.  Any questions contact me or UL Regulatory Services 800-595-9844

Follow up to the meeting, I got to help a local electrical contractor who was working on a project reconsider the cables he had purchased due to some of the listing limitations.  I think we were all happy that we got to this before he got it installed and had issues in the field.

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