Aim: The purpose of this article is to review the fire safety requirements for electric and optical fibre cables and to present the methods for testing their flammability characteristics.

Introduction: Since 2016, electric and optical fibre cables have been recognised as construction products. Therefore, like all other construction products, they are subject to the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). This paper presents the requirements which must be met before placing cables on the European (including Polish) market, and their properties verified in the field of fire safety. Due to the fact that the harmonised standard does not cover certain groups of cables (mainly in fire safety systems), the national requirements for placing the product on the market are also discussed. This paper also includes a synthetic analysis of national regulations in the area of requirements for electrical and optical fibre cables in the context of fire protection.

Methodology: A review of European and national legal requirements was performed in the context of the possibility of placing electric or optical fibre cables on the market as construction products. An analysis of the legal status in Poland was also carried out in terms of fire protection requirements for electric or optical fibre cables normally used in construction. This paper also presents the research methodologies allowing the characterisation and assessment of the fire hazard.

Conclusions: The large accumulation of cables in cable bundles is also a major fire hazard. The review confirmed that not all issues regarding the fire hazard caused by cables are regulated by law, and at some points they even lack proper regulation. However, this does not exempt designers and fire safety experts from using the available technical knowledge, bearing in mind that the regulations only specify the minimum requirements. Despite the fact that CPR standards specifying the reaction-to-fire performance of electric cables have been in force for over a year (two, if the transition period is taken into account), regulations as to the use of particular classes of cables have not been developed. This situation means that in Poland there is no clear specification of fire requirements for electric cables. In addition to the knowledge of the applicable requirements for electric cables and optical fibre, their testing methods and hazards related to wiring in buildings, technical knowledge is essential for the selection of wiring. An assumption can be made that, at least in the area of escape routes, electric cables and optical fibre with a higher reaction-to-fire performance should be used.

Keywords: electric cables, optical fibre, reaction to fire, CPR, B mark, cable testing, flammability of cables, fire requirements for cables

Type of article: review article