Utilizing Two Hour Fire Rated CIC Cables for NEC Article 708 Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS)

COPS are the areas of premises wiring that are required to maintain continuous operation for public safety, emergency management, national security or business continuity (708.2).  These “designated critical operation areas” include power systems, HVAC, fire alarms, security, and communication (708.1).  The purpose of this article is to address the use of the DuraLife Two Hour Fire Rated cable solution as it pertains to the requirements of Article 708.14. 

When the Architect and building department deem a building a critical operations facility, Article 708 installation requirements are followed in addition to the appropriate design criteria in the International Building Code and the Life Safety Code (if adopted by local authorities). Some examples of these types of facilities include: 911 call centers, citywide CCTV monitoring stations, central fire rescue response units, water treatment plants, and other mission critical facilities. Note that neither the IBC or NFPA 101 designates these types of facilities, and the NEC only covers the installation requirements. Typically. these are classified as such by the combination of ownership, local authorities, and other stakeholders such as the insurance company and the design architect or engineer. Most often all these stakeholders perform a risk assessment in accordance with NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs.

Article 708 has some of the following requirements for low voltage circuits:

  • Circuits must be physically protected in conduit as per 708.10
  • All conductors operating over 50V must have a 600V conductor rating
  • All cables for fire alarm, security, signal systems, and emergency communications shall be twisted continually shielded
  • All cables for fire alarm, security, and signaling systems shall be riser rated and shall be a listed 2-hour electrical circuit protective system

Radix’s two hour fire rated DuraLife II Dual Rated CI/CIC FPLR products meet the above requirements when installed accordingly:

As noted in the first bullet, circuits are to be protected by conduit including: Rigid metal conduit, Intermediate metal conduit, or Type MI cable. Because Circuit Integrity Cables cannot be used in RMC, DuraLife II cables can be installed with the approved IMC option.  Additionally, fire alarm systems using a non-shielded construction require a deviation request for approval.

Also, particular attention should be paid to the second bullet point. Utilizing Radix DuraLife II to run data loop circuits, circuit returns, RS485 communications, strobe circuits etc. is appropriate with systems operating at 24V. However, we recommend that for audio circuits used to power speakers, amplifiers should be set to 25VRms instead of 70VRms as a permissible economic alternative to the 600V conductor rating where options are more expensive and labor intensive.

Finally, NEC Article 728 Fire-Resistive Cable Systems states the following:
“728.3 Other Articles:   Wherever the requirements of other articles of this Code and Article 728 differ, the requirements of Article 728 shall apply.” So, any differing requirements of the NEC vs our installation instructions, the manufacturer’s installation manual shall take precedent.

As a 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. 


Alex Dimitriu
Radix Wire & Cable