Washington, DC November 8, 2011
The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) recognizes UL’s (Underwriters Laboratories) progress in implementing its enhanced Follow Up Service (FUS) program, which now includes the requirement that all UL Listed Communications and Network Cables manufactured globally must bear a holographic label with the UL Mark.
Through past press releases and other industry communications, the CCCA reported its findings which indicated an industry-wide problem with communication and network cables that do not meet minimum fire safety requirements of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) widely adopted National Electrical Code (NEC). CCCA found that some imported plenum communications cable (CMP) and riser communications cable (CMR) were seriously non-compliant with this code.
Based on these findings and UL’s market surveillance investigations, UL developed program enhancements to address the issue. As part of a collaborative effort with CCCA manufacturers and global cable and material producers, UL instituted enhanced screening tools, labeling methods and inspection procedures which give end-users more confidence that the UL listed cables they purchase will meet all National Electrical Code (NEC) fire safety requirements.
“CCCA applauds UL’s actions and initiatives to further strengthen programs and procedures in response to the non-complaint cable problem and its impact on public safety,” said Frank Peri, CCCA’s Executive Director. “We believe these steps go a long way in helping to maintain safe, compliant products in the structured cabling market. At the same time, we recognize the global complexities and costs involved in developing and implementing these programs successfully. We are proud to be part of this joint effort to stem the flow of substandard and non-compliant products.”
The concern regarding non-compliant cable is that, if installed in building plenum spaces or in vertical floor-to-floor riser shafts in buildings, these products could cause fire and smoke to spread more rapidly, making evacuation and rescue of occupants more difficult. Research on non-compliant cables has shown that these potentially hazardous communications cables are made from lower fire performance materials and have inconsistent manufacturing processes that make compliance to the NEC impossible. In some cases, the cable markings and packages displayed unauthorized or counterfeit listing references to independent testing agencies.
Most importantly, UL reminds end-users that there are two elements to look for in verifying a UL compliant cable. In addition to having proper jacket markings, the cable’s box, reel or container must also be properly marked with a UL Holographic label. “The enhanced FUS program will help minimize the risk associated with installing a noncompliant cable and allow end-users and specifiers to look for a UL Holographic label,” said Steve Galan, UL’s Business Development Director for wire and cable. “The new security feature provides multiple levels of security and will help in specifying, verifying when ordering and/or installing cable.”
Both CCCA and UL acknowledge that, as long as there is a large profit motive by substituting lower cost lower performing materials and skirting the NEC requirements, the challenge from non-compliant cables will remain. Both organizations pledge to continue to collaborate on other potential industry solutions to further educate the industry and end users to stay ahead of non-compliant and counterfeit manufacturers.
CCCA emphasizes that many of its members are well recognized global companies with global manufacturing facilities and business operations. Cable quality issues and failure to comply with industry codes and standards are not necessarily regional in nature, but rather the result of substituting lower cost, low performance materials for the application and/or insufficient manufacturing process controls.
CCCA, a non-profit corporation formed in 2007, has a mission to serve as the major resource for well researched, fact-based information on the technologies and products of structured cabling media to support current and future needs of the networking, IT and communications industries. CCCA is also proactive at codes and standards bodies and other trade and industry organizations in communicating and influencing best practices and decisions affecting the quality, performance and societal needs of the structured cabling infrastructure.
CCCA member companies: Accu-Tech; AlphaGary; Anixter; Belden; Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company; Cable Components Group; comCables; CommScope; Daikin America; DuPont; 3M; General Cable; Optical Cable Corporation (OCC); OFS, a Furukawa Company; Panduit; PolyOne; Sentinel Connector Systems; Solvay Solexis; Superior Essex; TE Connectivity.
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