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20 November 2023

Wrexham Mineral Cables Calls for Better Building Safety Standards to ‘Save Lives’


Wrexham Mineral Cables (WMC), a manufacturer based in Ruabon, Wrexham, is calling for further improvements in UK building safety standards to help ‘save lives’.

Stricter building regulations were introduced by the UK Government this month (1 October) in England as part of new secondary legislation to implement Building Safety Act requirements. Now WMC is asking the UK Government and industry to apply better testing standards for fire safety cables, which are currently used in buildings of all types.

A new white paper called Expecting the unexpected: specifying safety-critical circuit cables for fire survival, outlines the key role played by fire survival circuit cables in improving building safety, and therefore saving lives. Building systems depend on special fire safety cables to maintain their electricity supply in the event of a fire to keep occupants safe as they evacuate.

The 20-page white paper sets out the current testing standards for fire performance cables and highlights how cables – often a hidden part of a building’s system – have a direct impact on building safety. The paper discusses:

  • The need for better understanding of how fire performance cables work and their role in building fire safety
  • Fire performance cable testing, and issues with that testing
  • Why cables classified as fire-resistant might not perform in true fire scenarios

Colin Hughes, Group Manager at WMC, comments:

“Six years post-Grenfell and we know that progress is being made to improve building safety. Yet we still need to make the case for better testing standards for fire performance cables.”

“As a manufacturer committed to improving safety standards, we hope to inspire anyone with an interest in building safety to demand better testing standards for fire performance cables. The specification of high-performance mineral-insulated copper clad (MICC) cables could help save lives – and we need to get this message out far and wide.”

The paper details how, at present, specifiers must choose between two types of electrical cables: polymeric “soft skin” cables and MICC cables. The current regime of testing means both cable types are classed as fire-resistant. It creates an impression that the two options are equal.

However, as the paper demonstrates, this is not the case. MICC cables are proven to perform to higher safety standards in ‘real fire’ scenarios. But with no requirement for better-performing MICC cables to be used in safety-critical applications, building safety, and therefore human life, continues to be put at risk.

Colin Hughes adds:

“Cabling is a hidden part of a building’s fabric, but its importance to building safety must not be overlooked. With building safety a top public concern, we need to keep pressing for better safety standards for fire survival cables.”

Published this week, and free to download from the WMC’s website, Expecting the unexpected: specifying safety-critical circuit cables for fire survival – was written in response to a growing frustration at the slow pace of progress made on building safety because of the lessons learned from the Grenfell Tower fire

 



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