Factors to consider while Building a Fire Proof Structured Cabling System
When it comes to installing structured cabling system, it requires ‘Hope for the best, but plan for the worst’ approach. A single mistake made while the installation process can not only cause operational problems but can also impact the office safety. In order to avoid severe consequences, it is important to be prepared for such emergency situation by properly designing & installing Fire Resilient Structured Cabling Systems.
The recommended approach
A single product or stack will never be able to solve this multi-faceted problem. A combination of tools, technology and processes are required to ensure that your infrastructure is ready to handle any fire-related incidents with minimum downtime and maximum fight back.
Below are some of the prominent considerations:
- Structured Cabling design planning
- Construction requirements – building, IT area, interior construction materials, raised floors, openings
- Permitted materials list in IT areas
- Fire detection, protection & suppressant equipment – automation, portability
- Utilities – HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning), Coolant systems for IT equipment, Electrical wirings & Supply circuits
- Processes to inspect, quantify and assess risks from time to time
A guide to building Fire Resilient Structured Cabling Design:
Given the digital run of businesses, and the prolific growth of internet and data communications infrastructures, structured cabling holds a great responsibility in terms of helping to minimise both risk probability and impact.
Choosing the right types of cables and material can go a long way in adding value to fire control measures. Some prominent factors are:
Cable Sheath Installation
By far, the most common reason for data cables to catch fire is through contagion (i.e. fire kindled by nearby sources) and then the cable insulation sheath carrying the fire around. Below characteristics are evaluated and rated:
- Smoke production
- Flaming droplets
The fundamental considerations would undoubtedly be installing cables as far away from potential sources of fire as possible & using cables whose insulation is not easily flammable
Cabling Choices – PVC vs LSZH
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) & Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) represent the materials used to build the insulating jackets. Low smoke properties refer to the reduced smoke-producing characteristics of a compound when burned while zero halogens describe its ability to severely limit the release of harmful and toxic chemicals such as bromine, chlorine and fluorine when exposed to fire.
While the addition of these halogens provides flame retardant properties to cables, these are also potentially harmful to human ingestion through airway
Cabling Materials – Thermoplastic vs Thermoset
Thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics are separate types of polymers that respond differently to heat. While the former melts on exposure to high heat conditions, a thermoset material exhibit massively better flame-propagation resistance characteristics and fights softening and degradation.
Flame Resistant vs Flame Retardant Cables
An important distinction exists between fire-resistant cables and flame-retardant cables – flame retardant cables are designed to resist the spread of fire into a new area. Fire-resistant or fire rated cables are designed to maintain circuit integrity and continue to work for a specified period under defined conditions.
Cabling fire safety is one of the important aspects that shouldn’t be ignored while building of structured cabling system for any kind of business. At Digisol, we have been developing safe, secured and future ready SCS for more than 3 decades. Our goal is to offer future proof solutions to all our clients at the same time keeping safety & security concerns in mind.
If you’re looking for future-proof SCS that abide by the safety concerns, we would love to help.