Terminology Tuesday: CI vs. CIC Cable
I came to work expecting another typical day at the office, when suddenly the fire alarm began to blast. I quickly told the person on the other end of the phone that I would call them back. Then I covered my ears (it’s winter in Chicago, so I tried my ear muffs to no avail), and I continued to work, as did everyone around me. We assumed they forgot to mention that there would be a test of the fire alarm system this morning. Of course, when the alarm kept ringing, we realized it was time to get a move on… and get out!
I’m guessing it’s folks like us that caused more stringent codes (or at least longer time constraints within them) to be set for cables used in Emergency Voice / Alarm Communication (EVAC ) systems. EVAC systems are used to warn occupants in large commercial buildings of emergency events such as a fire and, if necessary, guide the occupants out of the building in a timely and orderly way. The code requires the system to be operational significantly longer than the expected time for a total evacuation, so the code requires the system remain operational for 2 hours.
Along with these stringent code requirements, came the need for specially rated Fire Alarm cables. The first of these are Circuit Integrity (CI) cables which carry the rating FPLR-CI. CI cables pass the 2 hour UL2196 Flame test not in conduit, (therefore they can NOT be run inside conduit and meet code). When installing CI cables , the installation should include fire stop material, the cable runs should have no splices through the fire zone, and terminations should take place no less than 12 inches beyond the fire-rated wall or floor bounding the fire zone.
For conduit applications (like running conduit through a plenum space), CIC cables must be deployed. CIC stands for Circuit Integrity in Conduit. CIC cables can NOT be deployed in a 2 hour application outside the conduit.
Be sure you are getting the right fire alarm cable for your application. If you are unsure, feel free to ask your local CSC representative which cable is correct for your project.