• How many different types of Fire Alarm Cable are available?

    There are five basic types of Fire Alarm Cable:
     
    FPL - Power Limited General Purpose
    FPLR - Power Limited Suitable from Floor to Floor
    FPLP - Power Limited Suitable for use in Ducts, Plenums, and other spaces
    NPLF - Non-Power Limited General Purpose
    NPLFP - Non-Power Limited Suitable for use in Ducts, Plenums, and other spaces

    Click here to see Fire Alarm Cable products
  • What's the difference between power limited cables and non-power limited cables?

    The difference between power limited cables and non-power limited cables comes down to which sections of NEC they comply with. Non-power limited cables is a fire alarm circuit powered by a source that complies with NEC sections 760-21 and 760-23. Power limited cables is a fire alarm circuit powered by a source that complies with section 760-41.

  • Generally, how do I know what kind of fire alarm cable I need?

    Fire alarm cables are placed into three broad categories: plenum, non-plenum, and riser. Each of these corresponds to another standardized category. Plenum cable, to be used in ducts or other enclosed air spaces, is called FPLP; non-plenum cable, to be used in applications such as surface wiring, is FPL; and riser cable, which can be used in applications that go vertically from floor to floor, is FPLR. All of these names reflect where the fire alarm cable can be installed safely. Once you know where you will install the cable, you know in which category to start looking.
  • Which standards should I consider when choosing fire alarm and security cable?

    In the US, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) plays an important role in standards because it publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC). This document regulates the installation of electric wiring and equipment and should definitely be considered before starting a project.

    ASTM International and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also design tests and standards for a wide variety of wire and cable, including those used for fire alarm and security applications. In Canada, CSA International does work similar to the UL in the United States and can help assure compliance with the Canadian Electrical Code.
     

  • What are some precautions to consider when choosing fire alarm cable?

    There are many safety precautions such as voltage, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, etc., that should be considered in choosing any kind of electrical cable, including that for fire alarms. However, there are some notable fire-related safety precautions to consider as well. First is the fire resistance of the cable – will it burn and/or how long will it burn? Another is smoke propagation -- how much will it give off if it comes in contact with fire? These considerations should be made when choosing any type of electrical cable, but they are especially important in the case of fire alarm cable which must function in emergency situations and under extreme conditions.

    Most safety concerns (including these fire-related ones) are regulated by the UL, NEC, and other standards organizations and guidelines. The NEC outlines acceptable limits for burning and smoke emissions while the UL and other organizations are responsible for the development of various flame tests cables must pass in order to be considered safe for use.
     

Fire Alarm Cable is for use on fire alarms, smoke detectors, burglar alarms, voice communications, power limited circuit cable, critical circuit controls, signaling and indoor non-conduit per NEC. Fire Alarm cable is composed of solid bare conductors. Our Fire Alarm cable is also twisted for maximum flexibility. Fire Alarm cable is also available in Riser or Plenum. Fire Alarm can also be shielded with aluminum foil and a stranded tinned copper drain wire. 

Fire Alarm Cable Features: 

Insulation: Riser: Fire retardant PVC 
                      Plenum: PVC w/ smoke guard compound 
Jacketing: Riser: Fire retardant PVC red 
                     Plenum: PVC REd w/ smoke guard compound 
Temperature Rating: -20 deg C to + 60 deg C 

Fire Alarm Cable meets the following industry standards 
   
    • UL FPLR 
    • UL FPLP 
    • UL Standard 1424 
    • NEC Article 760 
    • Rated to 300 Volts

Power-Limited Fire Alarm System Cables
Three types of power-limited fire alarm cables are currently in use. These are: FPL, FPLR and FPLP.
  • Type FPL power-limited fire alarm cable is listed by the NEC as being suitable for general purpose fire alarm use. This listing excludes installation in risers, ducts, plenums and other space used for environmental air unless the cable is installed in conduit. All FPL cables are listed as being resistant to the spread of fire and must pass both UL test 1424 and vertical flame test UL 1581.
     
Type FPLR power-limited fire alarm riser cable is listed as being suitable for use in a vertical run in a shaft or from floor to floor. All FPLR cables are listed as having fire-resistant characteristics capable of preventing fire from traveling floor to floor. Riser cables must pass both UL test 1424 and the vertical riser flame test UL 1666.

 
  • Type FPLP power-limited fire alarm plenum cable is listed by the NEC as being suitable for use in ducts, plenums and other space used for environmental air. All FPLP cables are listed as having adequate fire-resistant and low smoke-producing characteristics and must pass both UL test 1424 and UL tunnel test 910.
 
Power-Limited Wiring Methods and Materials
Power-limited circuit conductors and cables described in section 760-71 of the NEC must be installed in the following ways:
  • Installed in raceways or exposed surfaces.
     
  • Protected against physical damage.
      
  • In metal raceways or rigid nonmetallic conduit where passing through a floor or wall to a height of 7 feet above the floor, unless adequate protection can be afforded by the building construction.
     
  • In rigid metal conduit, rigid nonmetallic conduit, intermediate metal conduit or electrical metallic tubing where installed in hoistways.
 
Listing Requirements
Conductor and cables for power-limited fire alarm circuits shall be listed for the purpose and meet the following requirements:

 
  • Conductors are solid or stranded copper. 
     
  • Conductors in a multiconductor cable shall not be smaller than 26 AWG. Single conductors shall not be smaller than 18 AWG.
  •  


The voltage rating shall not be marked on the cable. Voltage ratings marked on the cables may be misinterpreted to suggest that they can be used for Class 1, electric light and power applications. There are exceptions for cables with multiple listings or in cable substitutions.
 
Cable Substitutions
Cable Type Cable Substitutions
FPLP CMP
FPLR CMP, FPLP, CMR
FPL CMP, FPLP, CMR, FPLR, CMG, CM


Conductors of Different PLFA Circuits
  • Cable and conductors of two or more PLFA circuits, communications circuits or Class 3 circuits are permitted in the same cable, enclosure or raceway.
     
  • Conductors of one or more Class 2 circuits are permitted with conductors of PLFA circuits, provided that the insulation of the Class 2 circuit conductors is at least that required by PLFA circuits.
 
Special Cable Constructions
The increased demand for addressable fire alarm systems and the need to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), have created many changes in fire cable constructions. In response to this new demand, Signal Cable Company now supplies a wide variety of low and mid-capacitance cables.
 
Low and Mid-Capacitance Cables
Capacitance refers to a cable’s unique ability to store an electric charge and to resist sudden changes in the magnitude of that charge (voltage). It is found not only between the two wires of a twisted pair, but also between adjacent conductors in the same cable. The capacitance between two adjacent conductors is called the mutual capacitance and is expressed in picofarads per foot (pf/ft). In high frequency digital transmissions, mutual capacitance distorts the square wave shape of the signal, causing errors in data transmission. The larger the capacitance, the higher the distortion and error rate.

 Addressable fire alarm systems using advanced electronics allow the fire alarm panel to communicate with each base individually using a sophisticated polling process. In some instances, more than 100 devices can be located on a single pair of wires. Due to this need for faster and clearer signal transfer, the capacitance of the cable has become a concern.
 
New Changes in 2008 NEC Code Article 760
  • Added the requirements for fire alarm system conductors to comply with 300.8 [see NC 760.24]
     
  • Added cable ties as a means of support [see NEC 760.24]
     
  • Relocated equipment on removing accessible portions of abandoned cables and added requirements on the durability of tags used to identify cable(s) intended for future use [see NEC 760.25]
     
  • Revision to specify the intended objective of identifying fire alarm circuits at terminal and junction locations [see NEC 760.30]
     
  • Added requirements for NPLFA and PLFA power sources to be supplied by an individual branch circuit [see NEC 760.41, 760.121]
     
  • Added 300.7 to compliance requirements for installation for PFLA cables and conductors [see NEC 760.130(B)]
     
Revised to include mixed circuit classes in a cable tray [see NEC 760.139]
 
  • Added requirements that NPLFA cables used in wet locations must be listed for use in wet locations or have a moisture-impervious metal sheath [see NEC 760.176]
     
  • Added requirements for PLFA cables used in wet locations must be listed for use in wet locations or have a moisture-impervious metal sheath [see NEC 760.179]
 
Review of Cable Requirements
All installations must follow guidelines established by the National Electric Code. Below are some basic practices to remember when installing power-limited fire alarm systems. For a more in-depth review of requirements and installation guidelines, refer to the NEC.
  • All cables must be UL listed. Check all cables for the proper markings.  Refer to NEC Article 760.
     
  • Comply with local wiring requirements.
     
  • Only use conductors made of copper.
      
  • Test wiring for grounds, short circuits and open faults before the system is placed in operation.
      
  • Always use the proper gauge of wire to avoid line loss.
     
  • Avoid interference when routing wiring.
  • Installation shall be made to prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor.
     
  • A minimum of 6 inches of free conductor is required in each electrical box to facilitate termination.
     
  • All wiring must be terminated with UL listed devices.
  •  
    Local Codes
    Most states and cities adopt the NEC. A few states and cities amend the NEC recommendations regarding cable requirements. Any variances in code are easy to obtain through local officials. Check the local codes to determine if the NEC has been adopted in your area.
 

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