VW-1 Flame Testing: What it is and Why It’s Important for Fire Resistive Cable and Electrical Wire

Posted Feb 26, 2015

VW-1 Flame Testing: What it is and Why It’s Important for Fire Resistive Cable and Electrical Wire

To ensure the safety of the individuals inside your high rise building, your office and especially your home, you do everything you can. That includes using fire resistive alarm cable so that you know these individuals will be given the optimal evacuation time should electrical flames break out. It also includes wiring with high-quality electrical wire. But how do you really know that the cable and wire you’ve chosen will actually live up to the two hour fire rating and other safety claims it makes?

Fortunately, there are tests that provide this kind of guarantee. VW-1 flame testing is one of the most reliable of such testing methods. VW-1 flame testing is short for Vertical Wire-Class 1 flame testing. The VW-1 test was designed and is conducted by UL (Underwriters Laboratories). Its purpose is to screen out electrical cable and wire that prove themselves to be flammable under testing conditions.

What happens during VW-1 flame testing? Think of it as a science experiment that hearkens back to your high school chemistry classroom. Remember those Bunsen burners with their blue flames? Well, VW-1 flame testing uses a similar type of burner as an ignition source. The wire being tested is mounted to the burner and is subjected to the flame for 15-second intervals. This process is repeated five consecutive times for a total of 75 seconds of flame exposure time. When all is said and done, what constitutes a pass and what results in a failure of the cable or wire? If the wire burns for more than 60 seconds upon completion of the process and/or more than one-quarter of the sample burns according to the Kraft flag indicator used during the procedure, then the wire fails. Additionally, the burner’s base is stuffed with cotton during the VW-1 flame testing process. If this cotton is set aflame during the test, the sample fails as well. What does all of this mean for you? If the fire alarm cable you’ve chosen carries the VW-1 flame testing seal of approval, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that in the event of a fire emergency your high-rise evacuation procedure would go off without a potentially deadly alarm failure. Additionally, the VW-1 flame test offers the added assurance that the electrical wires in your building won’t cause, contribute to or lead to a fire.

Why is this so important? Most fires offer some sort of warning signal. You see or smell smoke, you get out, and then and only then do you alert emergency personnel. If properly cabled, your alarms pick up on this smoke and sound as well. This is not the case with electrical fires, however. The lack of smoke generated from electrical fires caused by faulty wiring can quickly result in an inescapable tragedy. And it just so happens that substandard and counterfeit wiring is a major contributor to electrical fires.

Don’t take such chances when lives are at stake. Choose your alarm cable and electrical wire carefully. Vertical Wire-Class 1 flame testing gives you the ability to select the safest and most reliable wire and cable available on the marketplace.



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