In the event of riser fires or fires within Telco closets, cabling actually becomes the vehicle for fire transmission: Take into account the accumulation of cabling on each floor. In every building on every floor there is enough potential tinder to send a riser system up in flames and smoke, blasting harmful fire and smoke through the riser like a chimney. In many instances improper firestopping is only one element of the blaze, the cables themselves lend a vast amount of flammable plastics and coverings which create the deadliest elements in fires for tenants, and that is smoke.
The threat of fire comes from a unique mix of factors in a given riser system. Openings in the floor and ceiling provide easy passage for riser cable-and for fire when inadequately firestopped. This faulty approach led to the destruction of One Meridian Plaza in Philadelphia. Domestic Improper firestopping in riser closets allowed fire to spread and, in the end, the building was a total loss. High-rise fires in the MGM Grand and First Interstate Bank buildings also reached epic proportions as a result of inadequate firestopping.
Even when building codes require fire-resistant cable in riser systems it is often overlooked or ignored all together. In many recent cases the implementation of counterfeit equipment can be another major cause of riser failure. Counterfeit cables are often substandard and contain dangerous materials that fuel fires and are easily ignited.
Unfortunately, the unmanaged Telco closet lacks a system of checks, documentation and accountability necessary to verify the safety of the cable installed and that the firestopping meets all regulatory codes. In many instances the task of firestopping is left to the base level construction apprentice and this important task is improperly handled and leaves the riser system in danger.
For building managers, ignoring the building riser closet and its vital impact on high rise fires can lead to catastrophe. Some are calling these riser systems the 4th utility, in addition to water, gas and electricity. With this crucial role that building riser cabling now takes, the aspect of credible riser management companies has taken on an even greater importance. Many building owners and managers are obtaining peace of mind through riser management companies. This takes the pressure of code compliance and engineering of the system of the local management team and puts in the hands of professionals used to performing and working with the proper materials and equipment.