Fire retard classification on Low-Profile Cable Management Floors
1. Fire retard is an important issue often asked by architects, contractors, and owners.
Are Netfloor systems non-combustible?
Which fire retard standards Netfloor Cable Management Systems have met?
What test reports Netfloor Systems have conducted?
Are Netfloor Systems same flammability standard as Raised Access Floor?
Raised Access Floor is non-combustible or class "0". Can Netfloor Systems meet?
Among Netfloor Systems: Camass and CamassCrete series are systems of "non-combustible".
Camass and CamassCrete meet BS-476 part 4 "non-combustible" also NYC MEA approval.
Other Netfloor Systems, ECO series CA-600R, CA-500R, and CA-400R meet BS476, part 7 Class 2 and meet NFPA 253 class 1 (Critical Radiant Flux Test for Floor Coverings).
Netfloors are not necessary same standards as Conventional Raised Access Floors (CRF). Non-combustible is part of the standards which the CRF needed to meet due to its applications (explain at section 2). Design concepts and applications of Netfloor Systems and other Low-Profile Cable Management Floor systems (Low-Profiles) are not same as the CRF. Netfloor Systems and Low-Profile are developed particularly for the cable management purposes in the office environment. However, the question is Netfloor Systems and other Low-Profiles are latest development.
They are totally new or even not yet been introduced to some marketplaces. However CRF has been introduced to the market for more than 30 years. So, Netfloor Systems and Low-Profiles are automatically classified as a type of Raised Floor. And the fire retard standards applied for CRF are often requested to Netfloor Systems and the Low-Profiles.
2. Design concept of the Conventional Raised Access Floor (CRF) Why CRF are made to meet non-combustible or class "0"?
To make comprehensive answers to the above, we need to trace back to the original design concept of the CRF.
Application of CRF: To use at the (old) computer room, control center, hi-tech IC, chips manufacturing, and etc.
Heights: Generally higher than 300 mm (11.81") to 1000 mm (39.37"), and up.
To cover large amounts and large diameter powers and data cables.
To cover water, chemical pipes and etc.
Providing under-floor air conditioning.
Although it is a false floor, CRF's function is same as a structure floors.
It sustains the valuable, heavy or extra-heavy machinery, computers, high-sensitive facilities, and to cover high voltage power cables, utility or chemical pipes, etc.
The above functions explain why CRF shall be system of non-combustible.
In case of fire, flame may be spread under the access floors due to the access floors are raised at more than 300 mm (11.81") and up to 1000 mm(39.37") high. The access floors shall be "non-flammable", as a barrier to flame above or under the access floor.
During past 10 years, the old cable management solutions, such as "Embed Floor Trucking", "Power Pole", "Flat Cable", and etc., are not capable to handle the sharply increasing amounts of cables in the offices. Large and intensive amounts of data and power wires flow into the office due to internet and intranet. CRF have been quickly stretched it's application to the offices in order
to "cover" the large amounts of cables. When CRF using for cables management applications, on-floor "Cable Trunk" shall be installed under the RF to manage the cables.
To summarize, CRF is basically as a "cover" to the cables, not "manage".
The CRF could not effectively meet high demands of openings for cable extension or to fix outlet service boxes as a connection to desk-tops or workstations.
3. Design concept of Netfloor and other Low-Profile Floors
As explained in section 2.4, CRF is using in the office area because there is immediate demand of raised floor to hide or cover the cables. However, this has only solved the basic demands, not meet the demands from the User's side.
Netfloor Systems and other Low-Profiles are latest development and designed especially for office cable management applications.
Ha. Height: Lower than 100mm (4") height, down to 40 mm (1.57") height, to reserve ceiling height.
Weight: average 12 kg to 20 kg per sq. meters, to reduce extra load bearing to old building only about 1/3 to 1/2 weight comparing to CRF.
Easy routing and managing the cables. Fully accessible cable protection trench caps.
4. Fire retard requirements for Netfloor Systems or Low-Profiles in office and school
a. In office and school, it is not necessary for Netfloor Systems or Low-Profiles to meet the non-combustible standard like CRF.
Netfloor Systems and other Low-Profiles are installed below 100 mm height, there is no under-floor air diffusion. In case of fire, flame shall not be distributed under Netfloor Systems or Low-Profiles.
All Netfloor systems meet or exceed NFPA part 7, class 2 fire retard standard and NFPA 253 class 1. Except NYC, LA and high-rise buildings in certain cities, this is acceptable as floor materials using in the office area.
More precisely, Netfloor Systems and Low-Profiles shall be classified as Low-Profile Access Flooring. This is a proper name to explain its function.
So, the latest development on Master Format Specifications (CSI) has been classified CRF as section 09 69 00 "Access Flooring". And classified Netfloors and other Low- Profiles as section 09 69 33 " Low Profiles Access Flooring".
Requirement of flammability standards for floors in office building and school are different to those of factory, computer center, control room, etc..
b. For whole building project, Netfloor Systems may be installed spreading all floor levels. Proposal made at 4.1 may not be accepted at the 3 hours rating areas. In this case, a combination usage of Netfloor systems is a solution.
At the 3 hours rating area, such as public aisle, lobby, escape stairs, suggest to use Camass or CamassCrete series. Camass and CamassCrete are rated "non-combustible" and suitable to use at the 3 hour rating areas. This area may occupy 15 % space of the total floor level.
At the 2 hours and one hour fire rating areas such as in-side aisles office, offices between room to room, Netfloor ECO series shall be suitable.
Camass and CamassCrete systems can connect to ECO series. All these systems are identical 600 X 600 mm (23.62" X 23.62") module set and 90 mm (3.54") width cable trenches.
c. For city government law such as in NYC, LA, Singapore requests that even Low-Profiles shall meet non-combustible standard, Camass and CamassCrete are qualified.