Time for a change to Fibre, FTTx, Datacomms and WiFi equipment.
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The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) has been around for many years. Previously known as CPD, it covers the fire performance and other aspects of various products used in construction.
The idea is that people involved in the design and construction of buildings will be able to make more informed decisions about the potential spread of fire of the products they choose. Cables are the latest products to be regulated this way.
When will CPR become law?
CPR became a legal requirement in July 2017. For relevant classified products, suppliers will now need to provide a Declaration of Performance (DoP), showing critical information such as manufacturer’s name, product type and class met.
Some suppliers may choose to supply this with the product but it is vital that the cable is labelled to give a route to obtaining a DoP. The regulation specifies that the information must be available from the manufacturer for up to 10 years from the date of purchase. You need to know what is expected from your cable supplier – without the DoP you cannot be certain that you are buying a CPR compliant product.
Who will be affected?
In short, anyone who is involved in the sale and purchase of cable will be affected by CPR. Suppliers (manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors) will have to declare the fire performance of a relevant cable designed for use in buildings. This will be graded from Class Aca to Fca (See Table 1).
In the UK, it has been left to the specifier or installer to follow IET guidelines and decide on which class is most appropriate for the project. However in some parts of Europe, local governments have chosen to stipulate the class of cable that can be used in different types of buildings. For example, a hospital may be exclusively Class Cca whereas a house may be Class Eca.
Where will CPR products be used?
From 10th June 2016, CPR became relevant to electric and fibre optic cable that are used in buildings and civil works. This includes houses, hospitals, shops, offices, airports, tunnels, stations – in fact any construction where people are likely to be and some where they aren’t!
How will CPR affect cables?
The CPR standard has been designed to determine the likely spread of fire through a structure. As cables run throughout buildings, between floors and through walls, they are a natural conduit for the spread of fire. Many of the materials used in the production of cables are derived from oil and therefore in their unmodified forms are highly flammable.
Some cables, through their design and function, will only pass the lower levels of testing. Data cables, such as Cat 5E and Cat 6, contain a lot of air gaps internally and in some cases PVC tubular jackets which will burn freely. Without significant redesign, these cables are unlikely to meet anything higher than Class Eca.
Redesigned cables will cost more, be more difficult to install, use more material and weigh more. Specifiers may need to take a pragmatic view when selecting cable. One big issue is the cost of testing and meeting the other requirements of conformity which will increase the prices of lower volume cables.