EConnection
Volume 5, Issue Number 2 May 1, 2000

Major Setback for Competing Electrical Code

Plans by the International Code Council (ICC) to promote a new electrical regulatory document that would compete against the National Electrical Code hit a snag last month when the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) withdrew from an agreement that would have allowed ICC — a loose federation of three model building groups — to promote the Canadian Electrical Code for regulatory use in this country.

Reaction from the U.S. electrical industry was swift and decisive when the ICC-CSA memorandum of understanding became public knowledge at the end of 1999. In a January letter addressed to CSA’s president, NECA chief executive officer John Grau expressed the industry’s concern over and opposition to CSA’s promoting and marketing the Canadian Electrical Code for regulatory use in this country.

Sending a message “We believe this ill-advised decision will result in confusion, reduction of public safety, and an overall weakening of the well-integrated U.S. electrical safety system that is of critical importance to our industry,” Grau wrote. “NECA respects the technical and safety expertise in the Canadian Electrical Code…but it is not suitable for regulatory adoption in this country.

It differs from our National Electrical Code in significant ways including voltage ranges, cable and conductor types, wiring device configurations, terminology, and reliance on a wholly different set of product safety standards.” Other industry segments followed NECA’s lead in sending protests to CSA. In addition to pointing out safety problems and a lack of compatibility between the Canadian code and U.S. wiring practices, electrical organizations were concerned about training costs and confusion in the marketplace that would result from trying to use any other regulatory code than the familiar and time-tested NEC.

In April, CSA’s vice president of standards announced that “as a result of feedback received from the U.S. on this initiative . . . we have decided to withdraw our proposal to have the CEC recognized in ICC’s Electrical Code at this time.” Continuing the fight Although this development is important, it’s still too early to claim total victory in the struggle for control of U.S. electrical codes. Last month, the International Code Council (ICC) held hearings in Birmingham, Alabama to consider amendments to its building codes, including the 1999 ICC Electrical Code.

“At present, their code is a 25-page booklet of administrative procedures,” explains Brooke Stauffer, NECA director of codes and standards. “We have no real problem with that, even if we do think it isn’t needed. What the electrical industry objects to is the notion of ICC’s code including technical requirements different from those in the NEC.”

Although CSA withdrew its proposal to have the Canadian Electrical Code adopted as ICC wiring rules prior to the Birmingham hearings, six other proposals had also been submitted for requirements that conflict with the National Electrical Code. Electrical industry representatives (including several N.E. Code-Panel members and one chairman) attended the ICC Electrical Code hearing on April 12 to argue against these proposals, and succeeded in killing two of them.

However, four were still approved. “If we wind up with different wiring rules in different regulatory codes, that’s when we’ll start having safety problems and creating confusion in the minds of users,” commented Stauffer. “But the ICC code process isn’t over yet.” NECA provides administrative support for an electrical industry coalition known as The Inspection Initiative, which was formed in 1996 to support the National Electrical Code and oppose the development of competing regulatory codes. Participating organizations include NECA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Inspectors (IBEW), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL).

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NECA Publishes Two New Installation Standards

NECA has just added two new volumes to its ‘National Electrical Installation Standard’ series.

They are:
• NECA 402-2000, Recommended Practice for Installing Motor Control Centers
• NECA/EGSA 404-2000, Recommended Practice for Installing Generator Sets (ANSI)

NECA 402 describes installation procedures for motor control centers (MCC) rated 600 volts or less. It also covers routine MCC maintenance and special procedures to be used after events such as a short-circuit or immersion in water . NECA/EGSA 404 describes installation practices for generator sets used for on- site power generation, including emergency applications. It was co-authored by the Electrical Generating Systems Association, an ANSI-accredited organization that develops standards covering the design, rating, and operation of electrical generators. NECA’s ‘National Electrical Installation Standards’ are the first quality standards for electrical construction services. They define what is meant by installing electrical products and systems in a “neat and workmanlike manner” as required by the NEC in Section 110-12 and six other places.

There are now a total of seven standards in print:

• NECA 100-1999, Symbols for Electrical Construction Drawings (ANSI)
• NECA/FOA 301-1997, Installing and Testing Fiber Optic Cables
• NECA 400-1998, Installing and Maintaining Switchboards (ANSI)
• NECA 402-2000, Installing and Maintaining Motor Control Centers
• NECA /EGSA 404-2000, Installing Generator Sets (ANSI)
• NECA/IESNA 500-1998, Installing Indoor Commercial Lighting Systems (ANSI)
• NECA/IESNA 502-1999, Installing Industrial Lighting Systems (ANSI)
“More than 70 percent of our NEIS have been ANSI-approved, a higher proportion than any other electrical standards developer,” observes Antoinette Valentin, NECA technical projects manager. “Plus, in only a little over two years we’ve sold nearly 22,000 copies of these standards. “Both of those facts demonstrate the need for quality standards out in the electrical construction marketplace. Customers and consulting engineers are both looking for assurance that their electrical products and systems have been installed in the most reliable, high-performance way.” All NEIS standards are priced at $25 with NECA-member and quantity discounts available. Contact the NECA Order Desk at any of the following: (301) 215-4504 tel, (301) 215-4500 fax, or by email at orderdesk@necanet.org, providing your name, company, mailing address (and NECA member number, where applicable). All nonmember orders must be pre-paid by check or credit card.

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NFPA to Publish Full Set of Building Codes

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced that it will develop a full set of consensus building codes to complement the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70-1999). The other primary document of the new series will be the NFPA Building Code. This and the NEC will serve as the two ‘bookends’ of a complete set of coordinated construction codes covering structural, plumbing, mechanical, electrical, natural gas, and fire protection. Partner organizations the key to safer codes NFPA will work with a number of other industry organizations to develop its new Consensus Codes.

They are:
• International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) — plumbing and mechanical codes.
• Reedy Creek Improvement District — NFPA’s new Building Code will be based on the EPCOT Building Code, whose requirements cover everything from residences to places of assembly to power generation facilities. EPCOT’s high-quality code has been in use for nearly 30 years ago, and has long served as a reference for other U.S. building codes.
• American Gas Association (AGA) — NFPA 54, ‘National Fuel Gas Code.’
• Western Fire Chiefs Association — fire prevention code based on current NFPA 1. The Consensus Codes, as NFPA is calling its new set of documents, will first be published in 2002 to coincide with the next edition of the NEC. They will differ from other organizations’ building codes by being consensus documents developed with open, ‘transparent’ procedures — like all other NFPA technical standards — and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

“We are committed to the time-tested and proven open consensus process,” said NFPA president George F. Miller. “True consensus is the cornerstone of NFPA’s mission and it is essential to public safety.” Most other building codes are developed using ‘closed’ processes that deliberately exclude all interests other than building officials.

For this reason, non-consensus building codes are generally less professional and not as technically accurate as ANSI-approved regulatory documents including the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70), National Fuel Gas Code (NFPA 54), and National Electrical Safety Code (IEEE C-2). The first meeting of NFPA’s new Technical Correlating Committee on Building Codes is scheduled to be held June 12-16, 2000 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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NECA C&S Committee Members Honored

Five veteran members of NECA’s Codes and Standards Committee were honored recently for long and dedicated service to the cause of electrical safety and standardization.

NECA is one of the most active organizations in the National Electrical Code process. C&S members serve on N.E. Code-Making Panels and other regulatory standards committees, where their industry experience and technical expertise contribute to electrical and public safety.

“Organizations that have frequent turnover in their representation aren’t nearly as effective in the Code process as NECA,” observes Brooke Stauffer, NECA’s director of codes and standards. “Really, it takes a new person about two cycles [six years] just to become an effective, knowledgeable member of a Code panel.”

Long service by NECA members on Code panels and other technical committees also increases the organization’s clout in creating the regulatory standards that contractors work with every day on the job. NECA members currently chair six of the 20 N.E. Code-Making Panels as well as the Technical Correlating Committee, which supervises the overall National Electrical Code process. At a recent meeting of the Codes and Standards Committee in San Antonio, Texas, the following long-term members received Committee Service Awards. (Their current standards committee assignments are shown in italics.)

35 Year Award

Harold Ware, Libra Electric Company, Oklahoma City, OK (Chairman, NEC Technical Correlating Committee)
25 Year Awards
• Stanley Kahn, Tri-City Electric Company, Aptos, CA (Chairman, N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 16, and NFPA Technical Correlating Committee on Health Care Facilities)
• Ronnie Toomer, Toomer Electrical Company, Baton Rouge, LA (Chairman, N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 5)
• Tom Wood, Cecil B. Wood Inc., Rockford, IL (Chairman, N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 11)
• Leo Davis, Manzano Western Inc., Albuquerque, NM (National Electrical Safety Code Committee)

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DeWALT Battery Pack Safety Recall

In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, DeWALT Industrial Tool Company of Baltimore, Maryland is recalling about 755,000 18-volt battery packs designed for use with its battery-operated tools.

The power packs’ clips can come loose, causing the units (which weigh more than 2 pounds, to fall off). DeWALT has received 53 reports of battery packs falling from tools. Injuries, including a head wound, were reported in five cases. The 18-volt battery packs being recalled by DeWALT can be identified as follows:

• They are black with ‘DeWALT’ and ‘18V’ in yellow on the sides.
• The model number DW9095 is located on the nameplate on the bottom of the battery.
• Date codes ranging from 9719 to 9810 are located on the top of the battery.
(NOTE: If the date code is followed by an “R,” or there is a quarter-inch red dot on the name plate, this means that battery pack has already been repaired and is safe to use.)
Major home centers and hardware stores, as well as industrial distributors, sold these battery packs nationwide from May 1997 through June 1998 for between $70 and $85 each. Consumers whose tool battery packs fit the description above should immediately stop using them and call DeWALT toll-free at (800) 457-0478, between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, for a free repair kit. Or, get full details on DeWALT’s web site. Go to www.dewalt.com and click on “News Flash” at the bottom of the page.

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Code Calendar

Upcoming meetings of interest to the codes & standards community:

• May 14–18: NFPA World Fire Safety Congress and Exposition, Denver, CO
• May 18: NFPA Standards Council, Denver, CO
• June 12–16: NFPA Technical Correlating Committee on Building Code, Cincinnati, OH
• Aug 14–15: Standards Engineering Society 2000 Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD
• Aug 15–16: NFPA Technical Committee on Electrical Systems in Health Care Facilities (NFPA 99), Irvine, CA
• Aug 17: NFPA Technical Committee on Electrical Equipment in Health Care Facilities (NFPA 99), Irvine, CA
• Aug 18: NFPA Technical Committee on Emergency Power Supplies (NFPA 110, 111), Baltimore, MD
• Aug 18–20: NFPA Standards Council, Vancouver, BC
• Aug 21–25: NFPA Technical Committee on Building Codes, Cincinnati, OH

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InBrief

ANSI moves to Washington, DC

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the federation of U.S. standards developing organizations, moved its executive offices to Washington, DC in March 2000 to strengthen its relations with Congressional decision makers and agencies like the Department of Commerce (DoC) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). ANSI’s new offices are located at 1819 L Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8020 tel, (202) 293-9287 fax. Administrative functions and standards administration will continue to be located at ANSI’s New York City offices, (212) 642-4900 tel and (212) 398-0023 fax.

NEMA industrial control standards available online The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is sponsoring a one-year test program providing free access to industry standards over the Internet. Throughout 2000, users can visit NEMA’s website to view or download industrial automation and control standards. They are in .pdf format and may be viewed online or downloaded free of charge. Go to www.nema.org, click on “Engineering,” and then click on “ICS Standards.”

Online electrical newsletter available Mike Holt’s Electrical Newsletter is a weekly (sometimes more frequent) online feature of interest to those in the electrical industry. Each newsletter is a “white paper” covering a different technical subject — ranging from voltage drop to power quality to grounding — of practical use to electricians, contractors, engineers, and inspectors. Mike Holt’s Electrical Newsletter also serves as on online forum where readers can trade ideas and solutions about the tehcnical problems raised. For a free subscription, go to www.mikeholt.com and click on “E-Mail Newsletter.”

Committee on emergency power supplies The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is seeking manufacturer and installer/maintainer members in all interest categories for the technical committee responsible for the following standards: NFPA 110, Standards for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, and NFPA 111, Standard on Stored Electrical Energy Emergency and Standby Power Systems. Interested persons should contact NFPA Codes and Standards Administration at (617) 770-3000.

TIA/EIA standardizes small form factor connectors The Telecommunications Industry Association has approved a revision to TIA-568-A Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard that establishes standard dimensions and other physical characteristics for small form factor (SFF) fiber optic connectors. SFF connectors, which are similar in size and shape to standard rectangular telephone jacks, have become increasingly popular over the last several years. But different manufacturers’ brands of connectors were not mechanically interchangeable, creating problems for installers and users. The new interchangeability requirements for SFF connectors will be published in the upcoming revision of the overall standard, to be designated TIA-568-B.

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InPrint

Articles by NECA Codes and Standards have appeared recently in the following publications:

Energy Decisions, “Setting Standards,” April 2000 Electrical Contractor (E.C.),
“Proposed ICC Electrical Code May Threaten Public Safety,” April 2000 E.C.,
“Code Question of the Month,” April 2000
The Electrical Distributor (T.E.D.), “Will End-to-End Solutions Spell Trouble?,” March 2000 E.C.,
“Installing Lights in Clothes Closets,” March 2000 E.C.,
“Understanding Wireless Networking Standards,” March 2000
Engineering Times, “South Florida Adopts New Electrical Code,” February 2000 T.E.D.,
“New Installation Standards for VDV,” February 2000

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Passages

Sad loss of Terry Lindsay Terry Lindsay, president Of Duncan Electric Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee, died March 15, 2000 at his home in Wildwood, Georgia.

A member of NECA’s Codes and Standards Committee since 1990, he also served on the National Electrical Code Technical Correlating Committee and N.E. Code-making Panel No. 8. Lindsay received a B.S. degree in engineering from Vanderbilt University and served as a naval aviator in Vietnam. At the family’s request, memorial contributions in Terry Lindsay’s name can be sent to the Boys’ Club of Chattanooga, 610 Lindsay Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

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