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Limited Combustible Cable

Limited combustible cables reduce smoke up to 20 times more than conventional plenum cables, reducing the risk of damage to sensitive electronic equipment, such as those found in LANs and data centers.

Just two minutes, thirty seconds into identical plenum cable core fire tests; combustible cables (top) and limited combustible cables (bottom).

Protecting Life and Property

When fire strikes, smoke can obscure evacuation routes making escape more difficult. Smoke is also the leading cause of property damage from fires.  Electronic equipment like that used for telecommunications in local area networks, data centers, and central offices is particularly susceptible to micro-sized carbon particles typical of smoke generated by burning cable.  Such smoke can quickly spread throughout a facility, contaminating and shorting out sensitive circuits far from the fire site.

In densely cabled facilities, like data centers, cables can be a significant source of fire and smoke load. CMP, CM and CMR cables may be up to code, but do not offer the most advanced cable fire safety performance technology available. Limited combustible cables produce up to 20 times less smoke than other plenum cables, and less smoke means less damage and less costly downtime.


Limited combustible cables are manufactured by leading structured cabling products manufacturers and are tested and verified by independent testing labs, such as UL, to meet the following requirements:

Compliant with Telecommunications Industries Association (TIA) Category 5e, Category 6 or higher industry standards for electrical performance and insulation Meet or exceed the most strigent NFPA or UL limited combustible requirements for cable flame spread, fire load and smoke generation  

In NFPA 255 test, limited combustible cable produces up to 20 times less smoke than conventional plenum cables.
While Limited Combustible cable is more expensive than conventional plenum-rated cables, the premium may be as little as a 1% in the total cost of a network infrastructure project.  Because there is no added premium for installation labor, the cost of an upgrade to Limited Combustible cable is about a 10% when compared to installing standard CMP cable.


Where local requirements disallow the use of combustible plenum cable in concealed spaces (including plenums), Limited Combustible cables offer a cost advantage when compared to installation of a sprinkler system or installation of cable in non-combustible conduit. 


Protecting the Environment

The practice of installing cables in the air handling spaces of buildings was introduced more than 20 years agoToday the installed base of combustible plenum cable in the U.S. is estimated to be 60 billion feet.*


The fire risk resulting from this accumulation of cable led to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) including a requirement for the removal of accessible abandoned communications cable in the National Electrical Code™ (NEC).  The requirement for removal is now law in most local jurisdictions.


Now concern is growing over the environmental impact of disposing of all of these abandoned cable.  Most conventional plenum cable, though within code, is often made with combustible insulations and jackets, which can contribute to fire risk and hazard, especially with today’s installations with massive amounts of cable. Also, concerns regarding the fire load associated with the accumulation of cables in plenum spaces have already resulted in the NEC requiring removal of accessible abandoned cable not tagged for future use. Some owners of structured cabling systems are concerned that they will face increasingly restrictive environmental protection regulationsthat will make cable disposal more difficult and expensive over time.


Because limited combustible cables are made of the most recyclable of plastics, diposal of them can be done with less detrimental impact to the environments.  In fact, their recycle value may significantly offset the cost of removal.

Limited combustible cables also offer greater environmental sustainability than typical combustible wire and cable products due to the following:

do not contain any substances or components regulated under the RoHS and WEEE Directives free of heavy metals and phthalates free of hazardous substances such as PBB and PBDE compliant with California Proposition 66 (requires no warning labels on products) offer more complete recyclability of both copper and plastics at end of life contain post-industrial recycled content today, with options for post-consumer content in the future




* Source: NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation, Limited Combustible Plenum Cable Fire Test Project.