Prysmian’s Fight Against Counterfeit Cable
Situated at Prysmian’s Eastleigh site is a rather inconspicuous block building. However, what goes on inside is integral to the development of some of our industry leading fire-resistant cables: the FP range.
Fire Test Lab
The fire test lab, as it’s now known, conducts over 1,500 tests a year in order to quality check and perfect existing and new cable.
It’s not just Prysmian’s cable that gets tested, however; quite often we are asked by our customers to test suspicious looking cable, or cable that has been imported from abroad.
It’s safe to say that over the years, the facility, run by fire test lab engineer Neil Jarvis, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the cable world.
During testing, if we find a fault with any cables, we will submit the results to the independent Approved Cables Initiative (ACI) who we will then work with to raise awareness of the cable and isolate it from use.
So, what are we looking for when we test fire resistant cables?
When testing fire resistant cables, we are testing the three key qualities:
- Fire resistance (does it perform as it should in a fire)
- Spread of flame (does it help to stop the spread of flame)
- Emittance of Smoke (does it give off toxic emissions)
How do we test for these qualities?
There are five chambers within the building which undertake these particular tests in accordance with the British standards.
Two chambers are for Fire Resistance testing. In these chambers, fire tests are concluded with water spray to extinguish the fire, replicating fire extinguishers, while one chamber actually contains a scaled down firefighters’ hose. The idea here is to replicate real-world scenarios alongside standard testing procedures. The standards for testing include BS6387, CWZ. BS EN 50200 (30, 60 & 120 mins) and Annex E. BS 8434-2. BS 8491. IEC 60331-1,2,3.
Another chamber is for smoke emission testing. Inside, the walls are completely black with thick soot coating every surface, showing just how dangerous smoke emissions can be, and how crucial emergency lighting is when inside a smoke-filled building. Remember, it’s not always the fire or smoke that’s the danger, but the effect it has on draining a room of light, and the ability to see escape routes. Here we test to BS EN 61034.
Our next chamber is for multiple cable flame propagation testing to BS EN 60332-3 and also heat release testing to BS EN 50399.
Our final chamber is for Single Cable Propagation; measuring the spread of flame. Here we look at simple PVC cables, as well as LS0H cables, which don’t necessarily need to work during a fire, but should not contribute to the spread of flame. We test to BS EN 60332-1-2.
The ultimate aim of our work with the fire test lab is to develop better cables for end users, to create a safer, more efficient world to live in. To read more about this movement and our work with the ACI check out: www.aci.org.uk