Wires use for data transfer might spread fire to the whole building. Preventive measures that can stop its propagation.

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In light of the recent unfortunate and ghastly fire accident in Surat, Gujarat, we would like to put some light upon some of the causes and preventive measures that can be taken with focus on cabling.

India saw the deaths of 17,700 people countrywide in fires in both public and residential buildings during 2015 (according to National Crime Records Bureau.) Behind 7% of those, short circuits were the cause of the fires, that’s nearly 1250 lives lost due to faulty wiring.

A major reason why fire is able to cause so much damage to life and property, especially closed buildings, is its ability to propagate throughout the building. It engulfs all the flammable material that comes in its way. It uses them as a medium to propagate and spread from a single location to all over the place causing maximum damage. Along with the sheer heat, fire lowers the oxygen level and also releases smoke with high particulate matter and poisonous fumes. This causes more deaths than the fire itself.

Cabling has a huge role to play in this propagation of fire, because of obvious reasons, wires can be found close to the location of where the short circuit initiates. Given the fact that the overall volume of cable is continuously going up in high rise buildings, it becomes very critical to select the right discipline of LAN cabling meeting higher standards of fire compliance. The proper selections of LAN Connectivity enables business efficiency and resiliency through an optimized and well managed cabling infrastructure. From an interconnected infrastructure perspective, it’s in alignment with the converged cabling connectivity infrastructure approach that we are seeing out in the environment today. It’s really a convergence of the traditional IT systems being video, voice, and data, along with the building systems being WLAN, access and monitoring, lighting, HVAC systems, and so on. Good cabling discipline and well designed networking infrastructure can significantly improve the network performance and improve availability. Selecting proper fire and electrical performance cabling infrastructure up front provides assurance on the correct life-cycle, safety, scalability and flexibility.

PVC as a solution does try to stop the propagation of fire because of its fire resistant nature, but it isn’t fully successful, and has major drawbacks. On coming in contact with water, it releases Hydrochloric Acid, a strong acid that causes damage to other wires & electrical equipment which might lead to short circuits (yes, the medicine can become poison). It also releases dense dark smoke & deadly poisonous fumes of hydrogen cyanide on burning. Its effects vary from irritation in the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, fainting, chronic problems or even death on excess exposure. Thus, it doesn’t solve the problem and needs better performing alternative. CMR or CMP grade PVC which is highly effective against fire turns out to be a little expensive.

The need of the hour is Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) coating. LSZH, limits the smoke by roughly 60% and reduces the amount of poisonous fumes released on its burning by 45% when compared to PVC. It is a much safer alternative to PVC as fire resistant coating for cables. In addition a good LSZH coating is self extinguishing to a certain extent, and will also stop the fire from spreading.

The question arises, where to install the LSZH coated cables. Our research shows a stark difference in PVC cables and LSZH cables when vertically oriented (see image). The fact is that the flames of a fire are able to rise up extremely rapidly due to the inherent nature. Due to this, LSZH is a must when it comes to vertical runs between the floors of a building.

STL includes international third party UL and CPR certified cable designs catering to various needs making our building infrastructures more secure and reliable.

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