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Fire Alarm Wire - Bulk

Cabling Plus is your #1 online source for fire alarm cables.  We offer a complete line of fire alarm wire in plenum, non-plenum, shielded non-plenum, and shielded plenum types.   Our fire alarm cables are designed to support all residential and commercial fire alarm applications.

National Electric Code (NEC) Article 760

NEC Article 760 covers "the installation of wiring and equipment of fire alarm systems including all circuits controlled and powered by the fire alarm system." These systems are defined in the NEC as, "The portion of the wiring system between the load side of the overcurrent device or the power-limited supply and the connected equipment of all circuits powered and controlled by the fire alarm system."

Power-Limited Fire Alarm System Cables

Three types of power-limited fire alarm cables are currently in use. These are: FPL, FPLR and FPLP.

Type FPL power-limited fire alarm wire is listed by the NEC as being suitable for general purpose fire alarm use. This listing excludes installation in risers, ducts, plenums and other space used for environmental air unless the cable is installed in conduit. All FPL fire alarm cables are listed as being resistant to the spread of fire and must pass both UL test 1424 and vertical flame test UL 1581.

Type FPLR power-limited fire alarm riser cable is listed as being suitable for use in a vertical run in a shaft or from floor to floor. All FPLR fire alarm cables are listed as having fire-resistant characteristics capable of preventing fire from traveling floor to floor. Riser fire alarm cables must pass both UL test 1424 and the vertical riser flame test UL 1666.

Type FPLP power-limited fire alarm plenum cable is listed by the NEC as being suitable for use in ducts, plenums and other space used for environmental air. All FPLP fire alarm cables are listed as having adequate fire-resistant and low smoke-producing characteristics and must pass both UL test 1424 and UL tunnel test 910.

Power-Limited Wiring Methods and Materials

Power-limited circuit conductors and cables described in section 760-71 of the NEC must be installed in the following ways:

Installed in raceways or exposed surfaces.

Protected against physical damage.

In metal raceways or rigid nonmetallic conduit where passing through a floor or wall to a height of 7 feet above the floor, unless adequate protection can be afforded by the building construction.

In rigid metal conduit, rigid nonmetallic conduit, intermediate metal conduit or electrical metallic tubing where installed in hoist-ways.

Listing Requirements

Conductor and cables for power-limited fire alarm circuits shall be listed for the purpose and meet the following requirements:

Fire alarm wire conductors are solid or stranded copper.

Fire alarm wire conductors in a multi-conductor cable shall not be smaller than 26 AWG. Single fire alarm wire conductors shall not be smaller than 18 AWG.

The voltage rating shall not be marked on the fire alarm cable. Voltage ratings marked on the cables may be misinterpreted to suggest that they can be used for Class 1, electric light and power applications. There are exceptions for cables with multiple listings or in cable substitutions.

Fire Alarm Cable Substitutions

Cable Type          Cable Substitutions

FPLP                   CMP

FPLR                   CMP, FPLP, CMR

FPL                     CMP, FPLP, CMR, FPLR, CMG, CM

Conductors of Different PLFA Circuits

Fire Alarm Cable and conductors of two or more PLFA circuits, communications circuits or Class 3 circuits are permitted in the same cable, enclosure or raceway.

Conductors of one or more Class 2 circuits are permitted with conductors of PLFA circuits, provided that the insulation of the Class 2 circuit conductors is at least that required by PLFA circuits.

Special Fire Alarm Cable Constructions

The increased demand for addressable fire alarm systems and the need to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), have created many changes in fire alarm cable constructions. In response to this new demand, Cabling Plus now supplies a wide variety of low and mid-capacitance cables.

Low and Mid-Capacitance Cables

Capacitance refers to a cable’s unique ability to store an electric charge and to resist sudden changes in the magnitude of that charge (voltage). It is found not only between the two wires of a twisted pair, but also between adjacent conductors in the same cable. The capacitance between two adjacent conductors is called the mutual capacitance and is expressed in picofarads per foot (pf/ft). In high frequency digital transmissions, mutual capacitance distorts the square wave shape of the signal, causing errors in data transmission. The larger the capacitance, the higher the distortion and error rate.

Addressable fire alarm systems using advanced electronics allow the fire alarm panel to communicate with each base individually using a sophisticated polling process. In some instances, more than 100 devices can be located on a single pair of wires. Due to this need for faster and clearer signal transfer, the capacitance of the cable has become a concern.

New Changes in 2008 NEC Code Article 760

Added the requirements for fire alarm system conductors to comply with 300.8 [see NC 760.24]

Added cable ties as a means of support [see NEC 760.24]

Relocated equipment on removing accessible portions of abandoned cables and added requirements on the durability of tags used to identify cable(s) intended for future use [see NEC 760.25]

Revision to specify the intended objective of identifying fire alarm circuits at terminal and junction locations [see NEC 760.30]

Added requirements for NPLFA and PLFA power sources to be supplied by an individual branch circuit [see NEC 760.41, 760.121]

Added 300.7 to compliance requirements for installation for PFLA cables and conductors [see NEC 760.130(B)]

Revised to include mixed circuit classes in a cable tray [see NEC 760.139]

Added requirements that NPLFA cables used in wet locations must be listed for use in wet locations or have a moisture-impervious metal sheath [see NEC 760.176]

Added requirements for PLFA fire alarm cables used in wet locations must be listed for use in wet locations or have a moisture-impervious metal sheath [see NEC 760.179]

Review of Fire Alarm Cable Requirements

All installations must follow guidelines established by the National Electric Code. Below are some basic practices to remember when installing power-limited fire alarm systems. For a more in-depth review of requirements and installation guidelines, refer to the NEC.

All fire alarm cables must be UL listed. Check all fire alarm cables for the proper markings.  Refer to NEC Article 760.

Comply with local fire alarm wiring requirements.

Only use fire alarm wire conductors made of copper.

Test fire alarm wiring for grounds, short circuits and open faults before the system is placed in operation.

Always use the proper gauge of fire alarm wire to avoid line loss.

Avoid interference when routing fire alarm wiring.

Installation shall be made to prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor.

A minimum of 6 inches of free fire alarm wire conductor is required in each electrical box to facilitate termination.

All fire alarm wiring must be terminated with UL listed devices.

Local Codes

Most states and cities adopt the NEC. A few states and cities amend the NEC recommendations regarding cable requirements. Any variances in code are easy to obtain through local officials. Check the local codes to determine if the NEC has been adopted in your area.