An important part of understanding the functionality of a fiber optic cable is learning about fire ratings–for a basic overview, read on.

Fiber optic cables severely reduce the risk of electrical fires in comparison to copper cables. Because they transfer information using light, they don’t cause electromagnetic interference, either. But, of course, there is always a risk for fire anywhere fiber optic cables are installed, due to other factors. And, when this happens, fiber optic cables have different levels of resistance. This is where fire ratings for cables come in. An important part of understanding the functionality of a fiber optic cable is learning about fire ratings–for a basic overview, read on.

Why are fire ratings needed?

If fiber optic cables reduce the risk of fire, why are ratings even necessary? While fiber optic cables utilize light to transfer information, some cables contain conductive material that can conduct electricity. This is where the risk of fire comes in, and where the National Electric Code (NEC) creates different ratings per cable. Depending on where the cables are needed, fire ratings should be heavily considered, as some purposes are more of a fire hazard than others. Usually, the ratings are displayed on the cable jacket every 2 to 4 feet.

What affects the ratings?

There are three types of jacket ratings: plenum, riser, and general purpose. Plenum jackets are considered the most resistant to fire, whereas general purpose jackets are least resistant. Certain jackets need to be used in certain situations; for more information, you can view article 770.19 of the NEC. But, there’s another factor to consider when defining fire ratings, and that’s whether or not the cable is conductive. Again, this can affect where the cable must be used–it’s important to contact professionals when installing fiber optic cable networks for this reason. Fire ratings must be carefully evaluated and considered before the cables are installed.

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