Belden Essential Cable Facts: Flame and Fire Retardation

Flame test on a sub-standard cable [1:09]


Flame test on a Belden cable [1:17]


Inferior cables are a major source of fire ignition and transmission. Cables are often installed in link areas and across fire walls, which makes using sub-standard cables an even bigger risk. Cable design, insulation and cable jacket materials collectively determine how effective a cable is against flame propagation.

Which cable components are critical?

When it comes to flame and fire, key components are:

  • Insulation is a dielectric that separates the cable conductors both physically and electrically. Its primary function is to protect the conductor and support the transfer of electric energy from point to point.
  • The cable jacket is an outer covering. Its primary role is to protect the internal cable components from the external environment.

What is the threat of flame and fire?

A multitude of different cables is available, with varying degrees of effectiveness against flame propagation. Industry standards are in place to guide you with your choice of cable. But the minimum requirement for flame propagation refers to the installation of a single cable. For maximum efficiency, cables are often bundled together. In this case the minimum requirement is no longer applicable and the cables of choice must meet a higher flame propagation standard.

What is the effect of flame and fire on sub-standard cable?

The types of insulation and jacketing materials used in a cable design will determine a cable’s reaction to flame and they are vital components for flammability performance.

What risks does this pose to a building or system?

  • Fire hazard: insufficient flame retardancy can turn a cable into a major source of fire transmission.
  • System failure: the spread of flames can lead to a complete system breakdown.
  • Major maintenance and repair costs: fire ignition can cause failure of the cable and eventually the complete system, requiring costly maintenance as a result of re-installation of the cabling.

Is your cable choice compliant?

The consequences of fire go beyond ignition and flame, the presence of toxic fumes in low ventilated or confined spaces where means of escape is restricted could be the difference between life and death. Compliance to the IEC applicable standards will always be important, but never more so than when there is a risk of loss of life.

IEC Standard Reference

IEC Standard Measurement

IEC 60754-1

Amount of halogen acid gas

Yes icon

IEC 60754-2

Degree of acidity of gases

Yes icon

IEC 61034-2

Smoke density

Yes icon