Ensuring compliance with the EU’s changing cabling regulation

Considering the significant amount of our time we spend outside of our own homes – in offices and in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and shops – we’d hope that all the materials and equipment of which they’re comprised are safe from fire hazards and other risks, writes Koen ter Linde, Vice President of enterprise in Europe, CommScope.


Koen ter Linde is Vice President of enterprise in Europe, CommScope.

The Construction Product Directive (CPD), introduced by European regulators in 1989, and later becoming the Construction Product Regulation (CPR), directly addressed this concern by classifying the fire safety of all construction products. Power and communications cables permanently installed in buildings and civil works were accepted as construction products in 2006, leading to the publication of CPD Euroclassification for cables (2006/751/EC) in the Official Journal of the European Union and, later, in EN 13501-6.

Further classification of how products such as communications cables react to fire was published 10 years after this, and a date for the mandatory CE Marking of cables was set as July 1st, 2017.

Since 1st July, a ‘hierarchy’ of cable fire requirements has been in place for the first time in Europe, from Aca to Fca. CommScope’s own HELIAX and CNR cables, for example, are compliant to the System 3, Class D rating.

It’s worth noting, however, that as CPR is only applicable to those power and communications cables permanently installed in buildings, patch cords and work area cords, for example, are excluded from the regulation.

Adoption across the continent

Given the size and complexity of the EU, it was impractical to develop requirements consistent across the entire continent. Each member country is, therefore, free to adopt the Euroclass it deems to be most suitable while observing the following conditions:

1. National regulations, if they do exist, must be adjusted to match the CPR
2. There is no requirement to institute national regulations if they don’t exist
3. The CPR may be directly applicable to certain applications such as public transport tunnels and public institutions, regardless of condition number two, above.

Essentially, different countries within the EU may require cables with different Euroclassification for use in the same installation environment. Hospitals in some countries may require the installation of Euroclass B2ca cables, for example, while Cca cables may be required in others.

Furthermore, to ensure that it’s easily identifiable, every product brought into the EU market must carry the CE label referring to the applicable Euroclass.

Safeguarding against risks

Mandatory CE Marking of cables will require a certain amount of investment from building owners and compliance teams. Indeed, complying with the CPR is likely to result in an increase in costs around the manufacture and testing of communications cables – particularly when it comes to the higher Euroclasses.

Safety is, of course, of the utmost importance, and all manufacturing facilities serving the European market must, therefore, have been audited and approved by notified bodies. In addition, the building industry must only work with vendors that have carried out extensive testing with notified bodies, and that can provide the proper Declarations of Performance for their cabling products.

While it may appear common sense, health and safety should remain at the top of the agenda for anyone involved in the provision and installation of power and communication cables. Fortunately, abiding with this latest iteration of the CPR will go a long way to safeguarding us from the risk of fires and other emergencies.

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