Southport, Lancashire, UK
Electric Cable Fire Performance Technology
I am a fire expert in electric cable technology specialising in the Nuclear & Infrastructure sectors. I am a member of the Institute of Marketing, Institute of Measurement & Control and the Insitute of Fire Prevention Officers. I am associated with the TRM/MICC Group of Companies in consultation with architects and M&E consultants in the preparation of specifications for cable use in high rise structures.
This is indeed an interesting move that should have been introduced from the outset in the design of high rise structures. Bearing in mind that 40% of fires Worldwide are caused by electrical cable malfunction it is imperative that the electrical cable is also taken into account. Cables are taken the length and breadth of every building and cables have been frequently known to assist in the spread of fire in highrise buildings. Most electrical cables will burn and emit smoke and toxic fumes.
It is noticed that ARUP is nominated for the M&E design. Safety in such prestige buildings, cannot and should not, be compromised. It is imperative that fire safety, in terms of electrical cables, is given a higher priority. The Fire Department in Hong Kong recently tested 12 cable manufacturers fire resistant cables against the fire standard and 9 failed prematurely. It is, therefore, essential that metal sheathed MI cables are specified for all fire protection services.
The more I explore the subject of fire safety in high rise building structures, the more I get alarmed at what I see. Many of these buildings have been in service over at least two decades and the electrical wiring is showing it's age both in terms of time and product utilisation. Additional load is always a problem in power circuitry. I would suggest that the state of the wiring should be addressed before proceeding with the fitment of "sprinklers" although I would hasten to add these are a way forward in the future. Surely the regulations and rules for engagement need to be clearly determined and the use of fireproof cables must be a paramount consideration.
Comment on: Architects break silence on Grenfell
Little reference has been made to the electrical wiring. cabling usually features in major fires and it is claimed that 40% of the fires Worldwide have been directly caused due to short circuits, voltage hikes and overload. In public flats many occupants have would be electricians and tamper and fireproof cables are recommended.
This fire could have an electrical cable origin. It will be interesting to discover the actual cause after the current investigations have been completed. fire suppression systems are only effective subject to the security of the electrical supply. Much depends on the choice of cable and in the light of past problems one would have thought that a Mineral insulated fireproof cable, type MICC, would be considered in all historic buildings of the this type of important edifice. Alternative, fire resisting cables will burn and assist in the spread of the fire. Obviously, there are lessons to be learned.