Introduction to the CPR for cables
One common technical language
On 1 July 2013, the European Construction Products Regulation (CPR) entered into force. The aim of the CPR is to provide reliable information on the performance of construction products via a ‘common technical language’, which defines uniform test methods for the performance of construction products. The CPR permits the free circulations of all construction products in the EU.
According to the CPR, construction products which are permanently incorporated in buildings and civil engineering structures (tunnels, bridges, etc.) must be assessed according to seven basic requirements: 1. mechanical resistance and stability; 2. fire safety; 3. hygiene, health and environment; 4. safety in use; 5. protection against noise; 6. energy and heat conservation; and 7. the sustainable use of natural resources.
Cables are directly involved in this, since they are an essential part of safety in the event of fire.
New performance standards were drafted to define a common technical language for the EU as part of the CPR; these are harmonised rules on product characteristics and associated test methods.
The CPR applies to all construction products that are permanently incorporated into buildings or civil engineering structures such as bridges or tunnels, which therefore includes cables. Power cables, control cables, communication cables and fibre optic cables are all covered by the CPR when installed permanently in a building.
The following cable performance specifications are covered by the CPR
- Reaction to fire: threshold values have been established for flame spread, fire propagation rate, heat release, smoke production, flaming droplets/particles, and acidity. Cables are classified into performance levels called Euroclasses according to these threshold values.
- Fire Resistance: this concerns the ability to remain operational during exposure to fire (functional integrity).
- Release of dangerous substances (refers to the REACH Regulation).
The harmonised EN50575:2014/A1:2016 standard specifies reaction to fire requirements for cables. The standards for functional integrity and the release of dangerous substances will follow at a later stage.
Date of Applicability
The publication in the Official Journal of the EU of the EN50575:2014/A1:2016 standard set 10 June 2016 as the date of entry into force of the CPR for the reaction to fire performance of cables. From that date on, a "coexistence period" or transitional period of 12 months for cables, up to and including 30 June 2017, came into effect to allow manufacturers of cables intended for permanent installation in structures to obtain a fire performance certificate, and draw up a Declaration of Performance (DoP) for each product. During the coexistence period, the CPR and previous national regulations are both applicable: this means that cables which meet the previous national legislation may still be placed on the market. From 1 July 2017, the fire performance of cables may only be assessed according to the Euroclasses. From that date at the latest, national regulations concerning reaction to fire performance must refer to the Euroclasses, and manufacturers may only place "CPR compliant" cables on the market. However, wholesalers and installers may continue to use their stocks of ‘old’ cables. The CPR only harmonises descriptions of reaction to fire performance. The imposition of a certain level of performance in a specific installation environment remains the task of the national legislators.