What is CPR Directive and what are its potential consequences?
Construction Products Regulation (CPR) defines harmonized conditions of free movement of all construction products, and introduces the requirement for modification of cables and wires in terms of flammability and smoke emitted during fire.
Requirements introduced by the Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 of the European Council and European Parliament dated 9th Match 2011 caused a big stir among cabling manufacturers due to the unification of requirements that up to that moment had varied in particular countries. The Directive in its full scope is binding since 1st July 2017, and the manufacturers had been properly informed in advance, which gave them a chance to align their products with its requirements.
New product requirements
The Regulation applies primarily to broadly understood fire safety of construction products, and in particular to make generalisation about classification methods of wires, as well as the assessment method. Due to a high percentage of fires caused by faulty electrical installation, this optimisation is aimed at increasing evacuation capabilities and extinguishing fires faster. The rule covers products intended for permanent use in building structures and obliges manufacturers to mark their products with their classification, confirmed by an assessment performed by an independent research unit. The following requirements were defined in the Directive: energy economy and heat retention, protection against noise, safety and accessibility in use, hygiene, health and the environment, mechanical resistance and stability, and the most important in the case of cables and wires: safety in case of fire.
Unified standards and markings
In the field of cabling, the regulation focuses on fire resistance, introducing a unified parametrisation method, closely connected with the passing of the PN-EN 50575 standard. It specifies the method of verification of the properties of products intended for sale. The Directive introduces parameters referring to resistance, total amount of emitted smoke and the spread of smoke, spread of fire, heat emission, or total amount of emitted heat. The combination of the PN-EN 50575 standard with the requirements of the CPR Directive obliges the manufacturer to draw up a Declaration of Performance (DoP), and label construction products with CE marking. The requirement for drawing up a Declaration of Performance is aimed at facilitating product identification, access to its class and information about the research unit, as well as proper technical documentation, which will make it easier for engineers to select a material for a particular type of building in the future.
Classes defined in the standard as binding from the following range of markings: ACa, B1Ca, B2Ca, CCa, DCa, ECa, FCa, were assigned with parameters of cables and wires. In terms of reaction to flames, entirely non-flammable products are classified as category ACa. All the other products, depending on their properties, are assigned to the remaining classes defined in the EN 13501-6 standard. At this point it should be noted that currently ACa cables are not manufactured. The highest category achieved for a material used in the production of cabling is B2Ca. According to the PN-EN 50575 standard, there are three assessment systems available when conducting the tests.
1+ system applies to products from B2Ca and CCa classes and lists labs and research units notified by the European Commission. What’s more, the system also includes permanent production assessment by an appropriate unit.
System 3 is dedicated to classes DCa and ECa. Declaration of Performance is drawn up based on the report from a notified laboratory.
The only exception is system 4 for the lowest class of products: FCa. In this case, tests can be conducted in manufacturer’s own lab or commissioned to a selected research lab. Due to a failure to comply with the requirements for class ECa, the goal of the test here is to prove that the product does not fall into the preceding class. In Poland, the Scientific and Research Centre for Fire Protection and the Research Technique Institute can certify the compliance with the assessment system. The EN 50575 standard describes in detail the testing methods for particular categories, and takes the following five parameters under consideration: creating burning droplets or corrosive gases, smoke density, emitted heat, and the spread of flames.
Scope of tests
According to the PN- EN ISO 1716 standard, products in the ACa category are tested for reaction to flames, determining the gross amount of burning heat. This is the only test conducted in this category, and the result indicates whether a given product belongs to this category. Products in classes B1Ca, B2Ca ,CCa, DCa undergo tests defined in accordance with the PN-EN 50399 standard for the amount of emitted heat, smoke emitted during the spread of flames, and in the PN-EN 60332-1-2 standard for the resistance of a wire or cable to vertical spread of fire. Furthermore, products in these categories undergo a series of additional tests for smoke emission (EN 50399, EN 61034-2), where the highest possible result is S1, and the lowest result is S3. The final result is a combination of the results achieved in individual tests. In the corrosivity test (EN 50267-2-3), grades a1, a2, a3 are given, indicating the acidity of gases. The final of the abovementioned additional criteria is the analysis of droplets falling onto the ground during material melting (EN 50399). The highest grade d0 is given to products in case of which droplets appear after more than 20 minutes. Assortment tested for class ECa is tested only for the resistance of the cable or wire against vertical spread of fire (EN 60332-1-2).
The impact of the new standards on the future of the industry
Due to the adoption of the Directive, since 1st July 2016 manufacturers have been obliged to provide only wires and cabling marked in accordance with the CPR Regulation. This change has unified the variety of classification standards for wires used in individual countries, reducing them to a single, strictly defined method. Classifications used up until now related only to tests for the spread of flames, while this new regulation has significantly increased requirements in terms of fire safety. Instead of improving the already adopted rules, in the future the directive may be used to formulate new regulations assigning a particular class to a given type of building or construction. This may lead to important changes in the area of insulating materials in use, which will be replaced by non-flammable products resistant to high temperatures.
TME’s offer compliant with the CPR Directive
Products in TME’s offer have certifications comprising the results of the tests conducted in accordance with the CPR Directive. This information includes product features, safety of use, and how the insulation reacts to sudden increase of temperature. Insulations marked as LSZH (Low Smoke Halogen Free) are predominant among insulation materials. They do not spread flames, they are self-extinguishing , halogen-free, and their resistance is higher and depends on the actual intended use.