The many international, national and industry specific regulations governing building life safety requirements are as varied as the countries that enforce them. With that, each regional code body develops specific test standards that are applicable to the criteria relevant to their need. For critical emergency circuits in the US, the National Electrical Code (NEC) defines the policy and Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certifies the products. To comply with the NEC code requirements, circuits deemed pathway survivable must pass the UL2196 qualifying test for Electrical Circuit Protective Systems. Cables that pass the rigorous UL2196 test are known as Circuit Integrity Cables, either as a system solution (CIC) or free air (-CI).
It is important to note that “Circuit Integrity” cables made to London Underground (LU) or British (BS) or European Standards (EN) are not the same as those made to the North American Standards. Even products meeting the International Building Code (IBC) / National Fire Protection (NFPA101) requirement for survivable circuits in certain building classifications must additionally conform to the electrical installation parameters of the NEC.The NEC recognizes only UL as the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory for the UL 2196 certification of fire resistive Electrical Circuit Protective Systems. Therefore, products not tested to the stringent criteria are non-compliant.
Non-compliant products are often skillfully marketed as an “equal to” or “less expensive” alternative to UL 2196 qualified cables. While they may be a cheaper substitute, they are not a proven or equivalent replacement to UL 2196 certified products. Indeed, if these products were in fact equal, they would simply submit to the same rigorous testing required for US compliant product for the UL stamp of approval. As the protector of policy, it is ultimately up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to make a risk assessment to determine if allowing a non-compliant product is an acceptable trade-off for those manufacturers that have expended the resources and time to ensure the integrity of their circuit integrity products.
As the market leader in two-hour fire-rated cable systems, it is our mission at Radix to stay informed of the most current code requirements and to share that information with our customers as well as provide product solutions that meet the need. If you would like to learn more or have a specific question regarding product application, installation, or code requirement, please call us at 216-731-9191 or attend our informational webinars.