Fire Retardant vs Fire Rated / Fire Resistant

There is a vast difference between cables that are rated flame retardant and those that have earned the rating fire rated or fire resistant. Fire retardant cables resist the spread of fire into a new area, while fire rated cables maintain circuit integrity and continue to work for a specified time under defined conditions. Fire rated cables continue to operate in the presence of fire and are commonly referred to as circuit integrity cables. The difference between the two ratings are significant for the critical circuits required for life safety or a safe and immediate plant shut down. Additionally, fire rated cables can be used to replace expensive fire rated structures, blankets or wraps and the difficult to install MI Cable.

Fire retardant cables are not rated to continue to operate in a fire, and in all probability will not maintain circuit integrity during a fire. the difference between flame retardant and fire rated / fire resistant cables can be seen in the test descriptions shown below.

Cable Test Fire Rated / Resistant
Definition A cable that will continue to operate in the presence of the fire, also identified as Circuit Integrity Cable.
UL - 2196 or
ULC S-139
Large fire test, 10 x 10 foot wall, can use either the standard or rapid rise fire profile, cable energized at the utilization voltage, water spray used at conclusion of test to verify the cables can survive fire fighting efforts.
IEC 60331
Small scale circuit integrity test, uses 0.6 meter ribbon burner. Standard temperature is 750°C for one hour. Other optional times and temperatures can be specified. Cable energized at rated voltage of cable.
Cable Test Fire Retardant
Definition A cable that will not convey or propagate a fire as defined by the Fire Retardant or Propagation Tests indicated below.

Vertical wire test to measure fire propagation, small scale, uses Bunsen burner, maximum propagation 12 inches
Similiar to VW1. Horizontal fire spread test, small scale, uses same burner as VW1. maximum propagation 2 inches.
IEC 60332-1

IEC 60332-2

Vertical Tray Fire Tests
Small scale vertical wire test.

Small scale vertical cable test.

Medium scale tests, measure fire propagation only. does not maintain circuit integrity beyond several minutes.


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