Radix Wire Is First To Certify Silicone Fire Alarm Cable Under the New UL 2196 Protocol
Posted Mar 03, 2014
March 4, 2014, Euclid, Ohio – Today, Radix Wire announced the release of the
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification listing for its DuraLife™ FPL 2‐hour
fire resistive fire alarm cable systems under UL2196.
Radix Wire obtained UL certification on its DuraLife™ 16 AWG 2‐wire and 14 AWG 2‐wire cable. The UL certification covers vertical, horizontal, horizontal splice and pull box applications, providing a full array of installment options. The new UL2196 certification protocol requires that the full system be certified, including the make, type and size of the EMT conduit, couplings, clamps, inserts and boxes. Radix partnered with Wheatland Tube, utilizing their ¾“ diameter EMT conduit product, to complete the system solution.
In September 2012, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) conducted extensive research on cable products formerly certified under UL2196, Tests for Fire Resistive Cables. UL discovered inconsistencies in the various products ability to pass the 2‐hour fire resistive ratings test. The key concern focused on the presence of zinc in the conduit. Circuit integrity, critical to fire alarm and emergency communication systems, was compromised by the reaction of the zinc with the copper conductor forming brass and lowering the melting temperature of the conductor; effectively disabling the circuit.
As a result of these findings, UL decertified all UL2196 certified wires and cables that required conduit for the raceway and prohibited the use of electrical conduits and conduit fittings with a zinc interior. UL then established an updated UL2196‐ based interim test protocol, requiring newly submitted cables to contain 5‐times the number of wires or cables to pass the fire test without failure.
“Radix internal testing confirmed UL’s results that a cable in EMT conduit that would consistently demonstrate greater than 3 hours of survivability, would lose circuit integrity in less than 30 minutes in rigid steel conduit due to the presence of zinc,” said Keith Nootbaar, Radix Wire president and CEO.
Radix’s cable engineering team immediately took on the challenge of delivering a cable that met or exceeded the new testing criteria for this mission‐critical cable. As a result, the Radix DuraLife™ FPL cable is the first flexible silicone‐insulated cable to pass this new recertification requirement for low‐voltage, power‐limited applications (FPL) and receive the UL electrical circuit integrity system certification (FHIT.28A).
“Our challenge was to find a way to fill the void left by the UL decertification and provide an innovative solution for electrical contractors and municipal AHJs (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to meet the current fire code for new commercial buildings,” Nootbaar added. “Our engineers met this challenge and developed a unique, patent‐pending solution that is extremely resilient to fire. DuraLife™ FPL cable provides the solution for building owners and enforcement officials whose highest priority is occupant safety.”
Fire enforcement agencies are becoming less tolerant of failure‐prone systems. NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code is a strict list of rules addressing the installation, performance, testing and maintenance of fire alarm systems. Denver, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are among the large U.S. cities that strictly adhere to the NFPA 72 guidelines on systems, which calls for the use of UL2196 2‐hour fire resistive circuit integrity wire. The NFPA code requires that buildings must have functional voice evacuation and mass notification systems that can hold up for extended periods of time so everyone can exit safely and first responders can quickly identify the fire’s location within the building. The code also requires that buildings over four stories in height have stairwell lighting, signs and signals that are 2‐hour fire‐rated. Non‐adherence to code can compromise the occupant’s safety and increase property and liability insurance premiums for the building owner.
Commercial buildings need fire alarm systems that function in extreme environments for long periods of time, providing time for evacuation and first responders. DuraLife™ FPL cable is more flexible and easier to install than Mineral Insulated (MI) cable, while providing the level of assurance required when occupant safety is the priority. DuraLife™ FPL cable is available today from Radix’s distribution partners WESCO International and its subsidiary Calvert Wire and Cable.