The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, Inc, (CCCA), announced the results of tests conducted in July 2012 on off-shore-manufactured cables. The results showed that five of the six samples failed to meet the minimum National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements for fire safety, including low flame spread and/or smoke generation for installation in commercial buildings, schools, and multitenant residences. The CCCA reported that four of the five failing samples exhibited catastrophic failures. In one case, the chamber used to conduct the burn tests had to be shut down in less than three minutes because the fire was “so virulent.” The NFPA 262 test is specified to run 20 minutes. In addition, four of the five samples had a flame spread of 19.5 feet, the maximum length of the burn chamber.
“It is significant that none of the failing samples were certified under UL’s fire safety listing program,” says Frank Peri, CCCA executive director. “This also means that unscrupulous manufacturers may be moving to other testing agencies. This is disturbing and our concern cannot be understated because these potentially hazardous cables are being installed in buildings today. The potential liabilities we have addressed and risk to public safety in the event of fire are unacceptable.”
The CCCA also commissioned tests on the electrical performance of the cables. The results were not much better, the CCCA says. “Four of the five cables, which failed the fire safety requirements, also failed to meet minimum electrical performance required by industry standards for Category 5e and 6 cables, of which independent test certifications were also claimed,” the CCCA reported.
Cables selected for the tests were all procured from six different distributors in North America in April 2012. They were comprised of six different brands of plenum-rated CAT5e and CAT6 cable. The brands chosen are largely considered unknown by most buyers in North America.