Fire resistant and flame retardant cabling are important safety features for new buildings

What’s the difference between fire-resistant and flame-retardant cabling?

It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have electricity. Yet, years ago, people relied on candles to brighten up their homes and fires to heat them. We’ve come a long way since then. The invention of the light bulb took us further than people probably could have guessed it would.

We’re now living in a time when much of our lives run on electricity. So many things in our lives require cabling to survive. It’s a fact of life. And, while it’s made our lives easier and reduced the chance of buildings catching on fire, it took some time to really get to the advanced place we’re at today.

Unfortunately, electricity has caused and helped to spread fires along the way. Thankfully, there have been several advances to the way electrical cords are made that help us improve safety overall.

Two of those advances include fire-resistant and flame-retardant cables. While many people use these terms interchangeably, they’re actually two different things. These cables are both designed to protect wiring during a fire, but they act in two very different ways.

Flame-retardant cables. Flame retardant cables are designed to prevent a fire from spreading by inhibiting combustion.

Fire-resistant cables. Fire-resistant cables, commonly known as circuit integrity (CI) cables, are designed in a way that allows certain necessary operations to continue for one or two hours (depending on the rating).

While flame-retardant cables are important for other operations, fire-resistant cables are necessary for certain systems that need to keep running if a fire should occur. For example, a fire-resistant cable could allow the fire alarm and voice communications to work longer.

The National Electric Code (NEC) has some requirements for which systems need fire-resistant cables. For example, NEC 760.176 (F) requires CI cables for NFPA fire alarm systems used to meet the survivability of critical circuits requirements and be listed for that function per NFPA 72.

Even though we’ve come a long way from relying on candles and fires to provide heat and light, fire is still a risk. There are numerous things that can cause fires, so it’s important for facilities to take certain precautions to prepare for a worst-case scenario.

If you have questions about fire-resistant and fire-retardant cabling or cabling questions in general, please reach out to us. We have 37 years of experience in the industry and will make sure that everything is up to code and functioning smoothly. Contact us today at (801) 892-0500. You can also read more about this topic on our website.

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