Fire-resistive and Circuit Integrity Cables
UPDATE AS OF FEBRUARY 2014:
This supplements the previous update provided below:
1. Interim certifications.
UL continues its research and offers an interim program to which are certified fire-resistive cables including metal sheathed cable and cable in conduit. See System No. 1850, System No. 120, System No. 25A and FPL in EMT System No. 28A under product category FHIT for additional details. The fire-resistive cable manufacturers that have achieved certification under the interim program Current certifications can be viewed by clicking on the links below and then selecting "View Listings." Within the individual certifications, please note important information directing the user to the manufacturer's installation instructions and a link to the Electric Circuit Integrity System associated with the certified fire-resistive cable.
Those interested in further program details for fire-resistive cable or circuit integrity cable (-CI suffixed cable per the NEC) should contact UL's Principal Engineer, Blake Shugarman at +1.847.664.2022, or at Blake.M.Shugarman@UL.com.
2. UL 2196 & ULC-S139 Consensus Standards.
A binational effort between the UL Standards Technical Panel responsible for UL 2196 and the ULC Technical Committee responsible for S139 was initiated in 2012 to perform a comprehensive review of standards and to establish a single, improved binational standard for the US and Canada. Task Groups established under the binational initiative have completed surveys of fire resistive cabling systems and associated installation practices, and work to establish test method improvements and testing program protocols is currently progressing.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 2013:
UL 2196 & ULC-S139 Consensus Standards
A joint U.S. and Canada standards working group of the technical committee has been formed to determine what upgrades in requirements are necessary and to deliver a single, harmonized bi-national standard. The group was provided a detailed report from the three working groups that were formed in October of 2012. The report included all the variables associated with different types of fire resistive and CI cable, conduit, junction boxes, fittings and other system components, as well as installation methods, tools and materials. The group will focus on a strategy to address installation variables, sampling requirements for testing, and the need for further research.
It's anticipated the work of the joint technical committee will take between twelve and eighteen months to complete. Further details as to the timeline and key milestone will be provided in a future update.
UL & ULC continue to maintain an active certification program for fire resistive and CI cable.
While UL and ULC authorization for certification was initially discontinued in September of 2012, an interim program was quickly developed and we re-established certification in December of 2012. UL and ULC have been working closely with manufacturers to fully understand how variables impact performance of cables and systems. The interim program focuses on three key factors:
1) The need to establish repeatability, which includes testing of five samples of cable with all of the necessary system components
2) Whether representative testing may be possible in some cases if the critical variables of the fire resistive and CI cable system are understood (i.e., conductor size, conduit type, fitting, etc.) and a worst case configuration can be determined
3) An enhanced follow-up services process designed to ensure continued compliance
The current follow up surveillance process under the interim program, however, is under review in an effort to make it more practical and to eliminate any duplication of quality control measures that cable manufacturers may already be implementing.
To date, two cable manufacturers have achieved certification under the interim program and more are expected in the near future. All cable manufactures have expressed interest in the program. Current certifications can be viewed by clicking on the links below and then selecting "View Listings."
Q: What prompted UL to conduct all this research in these categories?
A: Here's a quick history of how we got here. A concern was brought to our attention related to the performance of these products in the presence of zinc. We validated this finding. As a result of this, we changed our Guide Information to indicate that all conduit and conduit fittings that come in contact with fire resistive cables should have an interior coating free of zinc.
During further research on a wide array of products, including conduits without zinc interior coating, systems and cables were not able to consistently achieve a two-hour fire resistive rating, and as a result, we initially decided to not offer the program, but quickly developed an interim program and re-established certification. Our research findings have been provided to the appropriate technical committees for their review and assessment. The timeline from conclusion of our initial research is as follows:
- March 2013: A joint U.S. and Canada standards working group of the technical committee was formed.
- December 2012: UL and ULC re-established certification of products under the interim program.
- October 2012: Three working groups were formed to conduct research testing with cable manufacturers and others to understand key attributes of various fire resistive and CI cables along with other components.
- Late September 2012: UL and ULC announced an interim certification program.
- September 2012: Based on extensive research, UL and ULC announced changes to the certification program for UL 2196 and ULC-S139, which discontinued certification under the current program.
Q: Is UL aware of field failures of these products?
A: UL began certifying these systems under the above referenced standards in 2000. To date, UL is not aware of any field failures with currently installed systems.
Impact on Standards:
Q; Have UL 2196 and ULC-S139 been withdrawn?
A: No, they have not been withdrawn.
Q: What other actions is UL taking regarding this issue?
A: UL/ULC standards are living documents that change regularly in response to changes in materials, technology, manufacturing practices, installation practices, testing expertise, field experience and fire science. The current work by the UL and ULC joint technical committee is just the latest iteration in the continuing development of safety requirements for fire resistive cable systems. As needed, the UL and ULC technical committees continue to adjust the standards in order to maintain effective safety requirements.
We encourage interested parties to actively participate and share their experiences with the joint technical committee. This can be done by contacting Dan Ryan at: Daniel.P.Ryan@ul.com, 919-549-1658. Please continue to check back for further updates.
Q: Can another organization certify products to UL-2196 or ULC-S139 since other product standards reference these standards?
A: You will have to ask the specific organizations that utilize those standards.
Q: What does UL recommend regarding fire Rrsistant cables that are currently in the marketplace (e.g. in warehouses, with distributors, etc.)?
A: Products in the marketplace that bear a UL or ULC mark is an indication that the product has been evaluated to UL 2196 or ULC-S139 standards and are intended to be installed in accordance with the applicable installation codes, specified installation method or design, and product markings.
As with any certified product, the sale or use of these products is determined by the marketplace and code authority acceptance.
Q: Certain assemblies only require 1 hour of fire resistance. Is UL suggesting that even 1-hour of fire resistance cannot be achieved or certified by UL?
A: The research UL conducted involved two-hour performance testing because the products are two-hour rated products. We cannot comment on a one-hour performance.
Q: Where are these systems typically located?
A: These systems are primarily installed in mixed occupancy high-rise buildings, and in tunnels, bridges, and other commercial infrastructures. In many circumstances, the referenced systems exist in conjunction with other fire mitigation system options, which are not in question. Within a building or structure, the locations of these fire resistive circuit cable systems are typically found as part of in the following life safety installations:
- Fire pump- Feeder/controls
- Smoke control equipment
- Command center critical systems
- Pressurized stairway systems
- Smoke management systems
- Fire alarm systems
- Electrical Equipment Rooms - Feeders/Service
- Emergency Generators and Standby Power Systems
Q: What should I do with current projects awaiting installation that use one of the systems covered by UL's public notice? Or, what do I do about an already installed system?
A: A Fire Safety Task Force consisting of representatives from UL's Fire and Electrical Councils recently met and offers the following:
Recommendations for buildings/structures with installed systems or systems that are awaiting sign-off:
Because of the variability in the design and construction of buildings and other structures that may have an Electrical Circuit Integrity System (ECIS), it is difficult to determine if any corrective action is needed. We recommend that code authorities, contractors, architects and building owners work with fire protection specialists to determine the reliance on these products and systems for code compliance and then decide if any action is required.
In determining if corrective action is necessary, we suggest you consider a "performance approach" to assess the building's unique situation. First, utilize a safety team to review and identify risks in the building (e.g. are there redundant systems in place and is there a need for an additional fire mitigating system?) Specific to the installed or specified ECIS, guide the team to consider all relevant factors and variables, including but not limited to the following:
- Length of cable in ECIS
- Location and access of current system cable
- Redundant protection systems currently in place
- Is COPS (Critical Operations Power Systems) classification essential to owner?
- Number of stories in building
- Occupancy (type) of building
- Fuel loading
- Sprinkler coverage
- Fire alarm system coverage
Assessing these variables will help your team to determine if any action is needed.
Who can I contact for additional information?
The following UL Regulatory Services staff can be directly contacted: