Fires: A Global Concern
Fires have a high cost in loss of Human life. About a third of fires originate inside buildings. In Europe the median fire death rate per 100.000 inhabitantsCTIF (International association of fire and rescue service)/Centre of Fire Statistics - Fire Statistics n. 11,June 2006 - table 2a/2b (death per inhabitans) and table 4a/4b (origin of fire)
Refer to ctif.org
was near 1 in 2003 and 2004, equivalent to 30.000 deaths per year. The UK Department for Communities and Local Government states that:
"the most commonly identified cause of death from a fire incident is being overcome by gas or smokeDepartment for Communities and Local Government (formerly ODPM)   Fire Statistics, United Kingdom, 2005 ,"
which accounts for 44% of all deaths. Another influential source, the Swedish SRSA (Swedish Rescue Services Agency) in a report on Fire Prevention states that: "In 1950 the average time from ignition of a fire to flashoverA flashover is the near simultaneous ignition of all combustible material in an unclosed area. Flashover occurs when the majority of surfaces in a space are heated to the point at which they give off flammable gases that are hot enough to sustain combustion was 15 minutes. Then, 25 years ago, that time was down to 5 minutes and now fatal conditions can occur after 3 minutes. This change has come about because of the increase of plastics in our homes, nothing else.SRSA - B. Albinson
Alternative way to achieve fire safety, 2002
"
Fires have also a significant impact on our economy. In a recent report, CTIF (International Association of Fire and Rescue Service) estimates that:
"the total economic costs of fires amount to around 1% of gross domestic product in most advanced countriesCTIF (International association of fire and rescue service)/Centre of Fire Statistics - Fire Statistics n. 11,June 2006 - table 2a/2b (death per inhabitans) and table 4a/4b (origin of fire)
Refer to ctif.org
".
Given these facts, the only possible conclusions are:
  • that the reduction of smoke and effluent gases is relevant to saving human lives and facilitating the work of rescue teams;
  • that the increased use of plastics in the last 50 years has had a dramatic effect on escape times.
The European Cable Industry has developed a range of Low Fire Hazard Cables that couple low flame spread and heat release with very low emission of smoke and dangerous gases. These cables help to provide more time to escape and a less hazardous environment for rescue teams.
 
Low Fire-Hazard cables improve safety
Restrict the propagation of fire and the heat release

Cables are generally composed of a metallic (or glass) conductor and organic materials for insulation and sheathing. The organic materials are combustible to various degrees.

Cables can be the means of propagation of a fire from one room to adjacent rooms; so the control of fire propagation along cable runs has been required in some National Regulations for many years in order to reduce this hazard. In term of cable design, reduced propagation performance implies the use of materials that are "self-retardant" or compounded with "flame-retardants". Perfomance is determined not only on a single cable, but also on a vertically installed bunch of cables which simulates the most onerous installation condition.

Reduce smoke production and harmful emissions

A low level of opacityOpacity: is an optical property of smoke relating to the ratio of incident light intensity to transmitted light intensity. Visibility levels in smoke are, related to its opacity. A material is said to be opaque when it does not permit a substantial proportion of light to pass through it. of smoke produced and acidity Acidity: is a parameter giving an indirect assessment of the corrosion potential of emissions during cable material combustion, based on, the measurement of pH and conductivity. Studies have shown that “acidity” is a useful “indicator” for important irritant toxic, effects when considering commonly used cable making materials. of the effluent are basic criteria in the selection of materials that, in the event of fire, make it possible to reduce the presence of dangerous gases and to facilitate escape. It is essential that the production of opaque smoke and harmful emissions is as low as possible during a fire.

The majority of deaths in a fire are due to inhaling dangerous gases. It is vital to reduce the exposure time to these gases by facilitating safe evacuation with the best possible visibility.