EU requirements for new fire classification
The EU’s CPR requirements for cables came into force on the 10th of June 2016. The transitional period will end one year later, the 1st of July 2017. For Nexans, it marks the end of many years of work to develop clearer marking and standardised fire classes.
Discussions began in the 1990s about creating a European standard for marking cables along the lines of the EU Construction Products Directive. However, the “directive”, which can be implemented differently at national level, was in 2013 replaced by a “regulation”, which is a law or rule that all EU countries must apply. It was called the CPR – Construction Products Regulation.
In practical terms, it states that all cables must be CE marked to show that the product meets basic requirements. Everything used in civil engineering works, residential buildings, tunnels and other properties must have CPR compliant CE marking. The principle is the same as for CE marking under the Low Voltage Directive or for consumer products like toys and domestic appliances.
Cable manufacturers are covered by CPR rules from the 10th of June 2016, and they then have a year to implement them. Nexans has been working towards this change for many years.
– At Langhus we have development engineers with access to dedicated equipment and a fire lab, close to development, production and customers. This is a big advantage when developing CPR classed cables, as the cable performance and the norwegian market will have a primary focus.
– The CPR requirements represent a general tightening up of the rules, requiring more advanced testing and new ways of measuring and recording heat release.
If there a major difference with the old requirements, or is it just about a new marking?
– The requirements are not entirely comparable with today's requirements because we now have a new classification scale from A to F. F burns immediately (no requirements) and A provides the best protection. E in the new scale is similar to the requirements specified by IEC 60332-2-1.
What demands does CPR place on manufacturers?
– For some products we have developed new plastic mixtures to meet the new requirements. Our aim is to create cables that are just as good, or better to install from the user's point of view, but are safer in the event of a fire.
Will Nexans have to change the way it works?
– One important change is that the manufacturers’ in-house tests are no longer a sufficient basis for CE marking. Final testing must now be done by or under the supervision of accredited labs.
How do I know if the cables are CPR marked?
– By checking that they have a label with CE marking and that the new fire classes appear on drum labels or packaging.
What should wholesalers do if they still have Nexans cables in stock without CE marking when the transitional period ends on 1 July 2017?
Wholesalers are allowed to sell any remanining stock.
Does this also apply to installers?
Yes, they can use their old cables.
Will some cables be discontinued?
– Some cables might be replaced, but no major changes.
Do the rules apply to cable manufactured outside Europe?
– Yes. The organisation bringing them into the EU is responsible for ensuring the cables are marked in accordance with the CPR rules.
What is the situation in Norway?
Every country has their own cable types and building traditions, and their own safety level. The requirements will be different from country to country. In Norway the current safety level continued with the new CPR rules.
Does Norway use cables differently from the rest of Europe?
Yes, to a large extent national types are used in Norway.
Who will be the big winners when the CPR standard is introduced?
– The general public will be the main winners. The CPR rules improve safety, and our knowledge will increase now that measurements are standardised across Europe.
Are there any losers?
– Rogue manufacturers that did not have the correct marking, and products that do not comply.
When will Nexans launch its first CE marked cables?
– They will be released consecutively in the beginning of 2017.