Fire Alarm Cable
Fire Alarm Cable Overview
In a fire emergency, a fire alarm system will save your life. With anything that important, it is a good idea to make sure you have the fundamentals covered such as your fire alarm cable. The fire alarm cable is the backbone of any fire alarm system. It carries signals from room to room, sounds the alarm, and plays a key role in other fire related issues. There is no single type of fire alarm cable, and there are many, many fire alarm cable variations, including cable construction, conductor options, color, striping options, safety ratings, and environmental ratings. With so many variations, it may be difficult to know which one to you need for your installation. We are here to help.
What is Fire Alarm Cable?
As mentioned above fire alarm cable plays a key role in your security system. While it is a fire alarm cable, there are many uses for it such as smoke alarms, smoke detectors, voice communications, microprocessor controlled systems, pull boxes (fire alarm signals), burglar alarms, and other low voltage applications. When it comes specifically to fire alarm systems, fire alarm circuits control and power applications such as safety functions, elevator capture and shutdown, door release, and damper control.
Our fire alarm cables operate from a frigid -10°C to a scorching 80°C and are California State Fire Marshal Approved.
NEC Articles 760 and 725 define two types of fire alarm system circuits: power limited and non-power limited. Power Limited Fire Alarm Cables generally operate in the 24-volt DC range while Non-power limited cables operate in the 120-volt AC range. Non-power limited cables are generally obsolete because low-voltage cable offers more advantages. This means that, most likely, you will be working with power-limited fire alarm cable.
Conductor: Shall not be smaller than 18AWG. Use solid or stranded bare copper conductors.
Insulation: PVC jacket with Fire Safety Rating.
Shield: depending on your needs, you may need to protect against interference created from other cable and devices.
Basic Safety Precautions to Consider
All fire alarm installations must follow guidelines established by the National Electric Code (NEC) as well as any local requirements.
- Cables must be UL listed with the proper markings.
- Only use cables with copper conductors.
- Test wires for ground, short circuits, and faults.
- Use proper gauge size.
- When necessary, use shielded cable to avoid EMI.
- Follow NEC guidelines and any local codes.
Types of Fire Alarm Cable Safety Ratings
When considering fire alarm cable one of the most important things to look for is the fire rating. There are three essential fire safety ratings that must be considered: FPL, FPLR, FPLP. While the NEC Article 760 defines what a power-limited cable is. UL tests and designates the uses and fire safety guidelines for the fire alarm cable.
FPL – FPL cable is suitable for general-purpose applications, excluding installation in air ducts, plenum spaces, riser closets, and any other space where environmental airflow occurs. These cables are resistant to fire and pass UL test 1424 and vertical flame test 1581.
FPLR – (view our FPLR) Riser rated fire alarm cable is suitable for vertical runs in elevator shafts and run going floor to floor. These cables have fire-safe characteristics, such as the ability to self-extinguish and produce a low amount of toxic smoke. They prevent fire from traveling from floor to floor. Riser cables must pass UL test 1424 and vertical riser test 1666.
FPLP – (view our FPLP) Plenum rated fire alarm cable is suitable for use in plenum spaces, air ducts, and other environmental airflow areas. They have the ability to self-extinguish and produce a low amount of toxic chemicals and smoke upon burning. These cables pass UL test 1424 and Steiner tunnel test 910.
Other options to consider
With fire alarm cables, you have, shielding options, gauge size options, and number of conductors.
Shielded Fire Alarm Cable – We carry shielded FPLP and shielded FPLR. Shielding is the best way to combat electromagnetic interference (EMI). Shielded fire alarm cable reflects outside energy and conducts it to the ground. In systems where there are a lot of cable runs and electronic equipment, getting shielded cable will give you a clear signal without interference.
Gauge size – No cable shall be smaller than 18AWG. We carry fire alarm cables between 12AWG and 22AWG. The smaller the gauge, the larger the wire. With a larger wire you will get less resistance for current flow. Getting a larger or smaller gauge is important when considering the applications and the distance of the run. Resistance increases with distance, so thicker wire is used in longer runs.
Number of conductors – For various appliances and equipment, you may need 2 or more conductors.
While fire alarm systems have been around for many years, their basic technology is the same. Each fire alarm is reliant on its fire alarm cable. Be sure you get your from a reputable supplier. For over a decade now, we strive to supply cost-effective cable solutions without compromising on quality. We carry Made in USA fire alarm cable. For any other security alarm needs, view our security alarm page. Additionally, please check out any tools that you may need.
For any other inquires, pricing, or questions, feel free to give us a call.