Fire can rapidly devastate an office, leaving expensive damage to your property, data, and assets. And yet many businesses are unaware that a huge fire hazard lurks just beneath the walls, floors, and ceilings of many offices. Surprisingly, the network cables that your business depends upon are highly flammable. Not only can they catch fire quickly, because they are spread throughout your building and go from room to room, they also make it easy for a fire to spread throughout your office as well.
Here we look at how to understand the flammability of network cables and the top ratings for cabling an office.
Understanding Cable Flammability
Most cables are made from metal wire with plastic sheathing. The regular plastic sheathing on most cables is highly flammable, spreads fire easily, and releases toxic fumes and thick smoke that can become a hazard in the case of fire.
Because these cables often run throughout offices in large quantities, making ‘fire-safe’ cables is a big priority. Flammability ratings have been developed to help businesses, builders, and IT professionals understand a cable’s likelihood of catching and spreading a fire.
The official Standard for Safety of Flammability of Plastic Materials for Parts in Devices and Appliances testing is released by Underwriters Laboratories of the United States. According to the words of the official standard, it helps to determine “the material’s tendency to either extinguish or spread the flame once the specimen has been ignited.”
Top Ratings For Cabling Your Office
When it comes to cabling a new office or recabling an existing office, you want to do the job right the first time. If you neglect to use the proper rated cables in your office fit out, you could end up in violation of the standards and need to start over.
Here are the three top-rated network cables you should install in your office:
1. Plenum Rated
Plenum rated cables are the gold standard for installation in the plenum spaces of your office building. Plenum spaces, which are larger openings behind walls and ceilings that are often used for air conditioning and heating, are perfect for housing and carrying cables. However, cables run in plenum spaces need to be specially rated, due to the high airflow and lack of fire barriers which creates a bigger fire risk in these areas.
Plenum rated cables have sheaths with a fire retardant coating, usually Teflon. This helps to prevent cables catching alight and fire spreading and reduces toxic gas and smoke in case of fire. Plenum cables must be used in all plenum spaces, to reduce the risk of fire and toxic smoke.
2. Riser (CMR) Rated
Riser cables run between the floor and non-plenum spaces. Because they don’t go through open areas with high air flow, the flammability ratings are not as strict.
Riser cables can be used between the floor, and in any spaces that are rated as plenum spaces. Plenum cables can be used in the place of riser cables. However, because of their lower specification, riser cables cannot be used in place of plenum cables.
3. LSZH Rated
LSZH stands for Low Smoke Zero Halogen and is a type of cable used in confined spaces like tunnels, ships and computer networking rooms where toxic or acrid smoke and fumes from a fire can quickly cause serious damage to people and equipment. These cables don’t contain any halogens such as fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine. LSZH self-extinguish, meaning they stop burning and don’t produce heavy soot like PVC cables. Halogens produce acrid, toxic smoke when burned, which is why these cables are specially developed to leave them out.
Choose LSZH cables for dense or confined networking rooms or other areas in your office where fumes and smoke could be a hazard.
Choosing the right cable for the right space is essential for your business’s performance and safety. It’s always better to get an IT professional to install your office cables, to avoid the costly mistake of installing the wrong cable type! Talk to 1+1 Tech about getting the top-rated cables installed for your office space.