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Background

On June 10th, 2016 the EU Commission finally incorporated into statute Regulation EU 305/2011 laying down the harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC.

The European Union, conscious of the relevance of cables for safety during fire, listed in the EUOJ, in June 2016, the harmonized standard EN 50575:2014 and its amendment A1:2016 for power, control and communication cables. That listing makes cables subject to the Construction Products Regulation. The harmonized standard came into force on 10th June 2016 and the coexistence period will end 1st July 2017.

From the July 1st it is required that any cable product permanently installed within a building or civil engineering construction was required to be classified in terms of the products reaction to fire characteristics and CE marked accordingly.

The characterisation of cables is required to be completed under the harmonised standard EN 50575. EN 50575 describes seven basic classifications levels which are intended to address and enable users and specifiers to routinely assess the safety of cables. The base classification is assessed by determining a bundle of cables ability to propagate fire. EN 50575 further smoke, acid gas generation and flaming droplets. Table 1 below summarises the characteristics and requirements of each class where Euroclass ACA is classified as non-combustible and Euroclass FCA is classified as flammable.

Table 1 has been extracted from EN 50575

Within the classification system described within Table 1 it is generally accepted that Euroclass ACA does not apply to cables and that it is unlikely any data cable will ever realise a Euroclass B1CA rating.

Table 1 Test methods for reaction to fire classes (Extracted from EN 50575)

Class Test methods
EN ISO 1716 EN 50399 a EN 60332-1-2 EN 61034-2 c2 EN 60754-2 c,d
Aca X - - - -
B1ca - X X X X
B2ca - X X X X
Cca - X X X X
Dca - X X X X
Eca - - X - -
Fca No performance determined
a     EN 50399 contains all the information previously referred to as FIPEC20 Scenario 1 and FIPEC20 Scenario 2.
b     Special conditions of test apply in EN 50399 to Class B1ca.
c     Additional classification tests.
d     EN 60754-2 contains all the information previously contained in EN 50267-2-3.