Concordia Technologies has issued a warning about the issues facing the cabling industry under the Constructions Products Regulation (CPR), a new piece of European legislation being introduced covering the classification of cables installed within buildings.

From July 2013, the CPR will require the Reaction to Fire performance of cables to be classified and CE marked by a notified body within the EU to verify the ‘Reaction to Fire’ performance.

The new regulation presently defines seven classes of ‘Reaction to Fire’ (A, B1, B2, C, D, E and F) in which those cables will have to be classified against. Each class sets out a range of criteria which the cables will have to meet to enable the CE mark to be applied.

Technical manager of Concordia Technologies, Neil Middleton, warned, “Today, the majority of low voltage cables, control cables and data cables marketed in Europe are manufactured in Asia where the understanding of fire performance, particularly where low smoke, halogen-free materials are involved, can be brought into question.

“It is apparent that a lack of knowledge and understanding of the impending CPR legislation, including the implications of the classification system, exists within the supply chain, which imports a large percentage of the affected product types, and this could have a huge impact on the quality of cables which will have to comply with the new legislation.

“CE marking of cables for fire performance will not be as simple as the process undertaken for CE marking products against the low voltage directive. It is highly unlikely that companies will be able to unilaterally declare conformity.”

Under the new CPR legislation, affected cables will have to carry a CE mark which can only be applied following the assessment of the products and the manufacturing plant by an independent EU designated notified body.

Only assessed products will be allowed to carry the mandatory CE mark and Euro class designator of the cables Reaction to Fire performance. Similarly, certain Euro classifications (A, B1, B2 and C) will be controlled and managed through the Attestation of Conformity system 1+ which will require ranges of cables to be submitted for type testing.

The system 1+ will also demand the preliminary and ongoing inspection and approval of manufacturer’s facilities through a process of audits and sampling designed to prevent compliance through the use of ‘golden samples’.

Middleton added, “Whilst the CPR in relation to cables and their Reaction to Fire is on schedule to be ratified in July 2013 the industry is likely to have a grace period of up to 12 months to get its house in order. The more responsible organisations are already moving down this path to have their products tested. This testing will allow them to start CE marking products as required under the legislation soon after its implementation next year.”