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National Electric Code (NFPA 70) stipulates shielded twisted pairs in designated critical operations areas (DCOA)

Initially introduced in 2008, the 2011 Edition of the National Electric Code (NFPA 70) includes article 708 under Chapter 7 Special Conditions entitled Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS). This article addresses homeland security issues for facilities that are "mission critical" as these systems must continue to operate continuously during the full duration of an emergency and beyond. COPS are those systems so classed by municipal, state, federal, or other codes by any governmental agency having jurisdiction or by facility engineering documentation establishing the necessity for such a system. Examples of facilities that may use COPS include police stations, fire stations, hospitals as well as homeland security projects.

The provisions of this article apply to the installation, operation, monitoring, control, and maintenance of the portions of the premises wiring system intended to supply, distribute, and control electricity to designated critical operations areas (DCOA) in the event of disruption to elements of the normal system. These systems include but are not limited to power systems, HVAC, fire alarm, security, communications, and signaling for designated critical operations areas.

As it relates to communications, Article 708.14 "Wiring of HVAC, Fire Alarm, Security, Emergency Communications, and Signaling Systems" states, among other requirements, that "All conductors or cables...shall comply with 708.14(1) through (8) as applicable" where:

  • 708.14 (1) "All cables for fire alarm, security, signal systems, and emergency communications shall be shielded twisted pair cables"
  • 708.14 (2) "Shields of cables for fire alarm, security, signal systems and emergency communications shall be continuous"
  • 708.14 (4) "Listed secondary protectors shall be provided at the terminals of the communication circuits"