Since 1996, I have been engaged in the advocacy for plenum cables meeting the NFPA 262 fire test method and performance criteria set forth in NFPA 90A. On the other side of the debate has been a formidable foe in the fluoropolymer industry with a seemingly unlimited budget for time, consult and PR shenanigans proposing UL-2424 cable as a sole means of telecommunications cabling. A new battle front has been brought to my attention and I believe it may provide the staunchest fight to date over the issue for the coming years.
Recent correspondence from a major fluoropolymer interest included cable-fire test data that was selected to show that non-plenum rated telecommunications cable in steel conduit does not meet the fire and smoke requirements set forth in the NFPA 90A standard today. The data and imagery provided with the correspondence seems to take aim at the fundamental premise that the NFPA 262 test predicts the performance of telecommunications cable in steel during a fire event.
This most recent correspondence is an extremely well thought out and tactically planned event. It is my opinion as a strategist that the fluoropolymer interests will seek the following with this latest blitzkrieg:
Divide and conquer interested parties: While this is not a direct attack on steel, this is meant to shake the newly poured foundation of a rebuilt alliance between steel and plastic over cable issues. This is a divide and conquer attempt in my opinion and the adversarial interests would rather fight two fronts against plastics and steel individually than to fight a unified group of industries.
Challenge NFPA 262 Premise: This is a direct challenge to the NFPA 262 test and the limits established in NFPA 90A. This strategy appears to set up the debunking of the NFPA 262 test for cable; if you (the group that created the 262 test) created a myth to develop it (as Mr. Dillon has continually upheld he was lied to as a committee member), then you can readily be aware of what corners were cut initially and where the weakness of the test is.
Designate UL-2424: This is an attempt to take the plenum issue to Fire Tests and to establish UL-2424 as the premier test for cable.
Challenge LC interpretation: This is an attempt to challenge the Standards Council ruling that "limited combustible" does not apply to cable.
Back about 7 years ago, I was working to have an ad hoc industry panel review the testing, detection and limits of NFPA 262. The ad hoc committee and a similar FPRF Technical Advisory Group failed. The fluoropolymer interests objected very loudly with alleged threats of market action to cable company participants causing the withdrawal of industry participants from the projects. That static hid the true objection to the committees' work which could have potentially uncovered a misinterpretation of the initial work in the field, direct technical efforts to bolster the test and revamp smoke detection to more accurate detection methods especially for clear gases emitted including HF and fluorine derivatives currently undetected in the current method due to etching and transparency. If NFPA 262 had been changed dramatically from its initial development, this page in the fluoropolymer activists' playbook would have been neutralized. This hindsight indicates to me that this latest argument has been in existence for many years and likely was being held for an appropriate time.
My efforts through JMME were largely funded initially by corporate sponsors; however, due to market changes, I lost my corporate funding in 2004. My participation over the past 2˝ years has been at the expense of my personal savings because I am committed to a code system that is not corrupted or manipulated through public relations campaigns or hidden money trails. I do not want to sound like a telethon, but this fight is not over and the scourge to the NFPA process is not eradicated. This fight must not stop and I need your support.
I am seeking sponsors to continue JMME participation on the plenum cable issue. With continued success in building our alliance and putting out the fires at NFPA and numerous local jurisdictions, I need to develop a financial backing for the advocacy efforts JMME is putting forth. I believe that my work speaks for itself on this issue and the strategic insight that I have brought to the fight has enabled the plenum cable industry to maintain its position while our opponent has spent heavily in an effort to assume market share. I welcome your inquiries and I hope that I can find a sufficient number of sponsors to continue my work in the plenum cable debate.
Please feel free to pass this along to other interested parties that you may know who might help our cause and my effort.
Thank you for your review and consideration. If you have any questions about this most recent information, please feel free to call JMME at your convenience.
John Moritz is President of JMME, Inc., (http://www.jmme.com) a consulting firm providing manufacturers, end users and regulators with advice and strategic guidance on the important role plastics play in today's corporate and personal worlds. Since its inception, JMME has been dedicated to corporate responsibility for developing safe products, effective protections provided by codes and standards for the safe use of plastic products and the overall protection of sports participants and spectators through effective testing and development of plastic sports equipment. John has written numerous articles and presentations on issues related to the selection of plastics in various industries and their potential effects on the marketplace, environment and regulatory processes. John serves on numerous codes and standards technical committees where he has fought diligently to preserve the consensus process and the integrity of the documents. Inquiries are encouraged and welcomed.
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