Volume 7, Issue Number 3 July 1, 2002

California Attorney General Rejects ICC Codes

The California attorney general’s office has ruled that local jurisdictions are not permitted to adopt model building codes other than those referenced in the California Building Code.

California adopts and enforces the National Electrical Code (NFPA standard 70), with some amendments, as its state-wide wiring rules. Specifically, the ruling invalidates City of Pasadena Ordinance No. 6847, which had adopted for regulatory use a number of codes published by the International Code Council (ICC). The attorney general’s opinion number 01-306 stated that the ordinance “is not consistent with state law,” and that the state’s “Code preempts local regulations as to building standards.” Section 104.2.8 of the 1998 California Building Code permits the use of alternate designs or construction methods based on “sufficient evidence or proof” being submitted to building officials to substantiate any claims that the substitute design or method is equivalent to that required by state law.

However, the attorney general’s decision stated that any departure from the California Building Code must be on a case-by-case, project-by-project basis: “That statutory authority is not subject to delegation to a third party such as the publishers of the International Codes. The legislative mandate, that building codes be uniform throughout the state, would otherwise be effectively thwarted.” NECA applauded California’s action.

“We support uniform adoption of the National Electrical Code as the nation’s safe wiring rules,” stated Brooke Stauffer, executive director for standards and safety. “The ICC, as an organization of non-electrical building officials, has no business trying to publish and promote an alternate electrical code of its own. The NEC has been doing an excellent job of protecting public safety for more than a century now.” To read the full opinion by the California attorney general’s office, visit http://caag.

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Two New NEIS Include Panelboard Standard and Joint Cable Tray effort by NECA and NEMA

Now there are 17 quality standards for electrical construction in print.

The latest additions to the ANSI-approved National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) series of publication are:

• NECA/NEMA 105-2002, Recommended Practice for Installing Metal Cable Tray Systems (ANSI)
• NECA 407-2002, Recommended Practice for Installing and Maintaining Panelboards (ANSI)
The cable tray standard is notable because it is the first NEIS jointly developed by NECA and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). “We are extremely excited about the release of our newest standard,” commented Pearl S. Parker, NECA standards associate. “Collaborating with other industry organizations, such as NEMA, further communicates our message that NEIS are widely-accepted technical standards. We believe that quality is a key concern in the electrical construction industry. The NEIS defines it by offering professionals a convenient way to specify high-quality construction methods.”

Ordering Information. NEIS are priced at $25, with NECA-member and quantity discounts available. Contact the NECA Order Desk at (301) 215-4504 tel, (301) 215-4500 fax, or orderdesk Provide your name, company, mailing address and NECA member number (where applicable). All non-member orders must be prepaid by check or credit card. National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) are also available in PDF download format at

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New Confined Space Guidelines

Confined Space Entry Guidelines (2002) has just been issued by NECA.

It is the latest in a series of safety publications and services that help electrical contractors protect their workers on the jobsite, while complying with regulations of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). So-called “confined spaces” range from manholes and tunnels, to crawl spaces under buildings, to crowded electrical equipment closets. These locations present particular safety problems caused by lack of mobility, reduced communications with other workers, and the difficulty of exiting quickly in an emergency. Sometimes the potential problems of confined spaces are further complicated by factors such as the need for artificial ventilation.

Confined Space Entry Guidelines (2002) is intended to help electrical contractors comply with applicable OSHA regulations and customer requirements, and develop company programs to ensure employee safety when working in confined spaces. It provides comprehensive information about OSHA Part 1910 and 1926 standards; confined space hazards and accident causes; safety training program requirements; records and documentation; exhibits, definitions, references, and more. “The relatively high number of confined space deaths for industry workers and their would-be rescuers is readily preventable,” said David L. Potts, NECA’s director of safety and insurance programs. “With established, well-planned work procedures, even harsh and hazardous enclosed environments can be made safe for productive maintenance and construction work. This new NECA publications offers guidelines to help make this possible.”

Confined Space Entry Guidelines (2002) is a loose-leaf binder of more than 100 pages. It includes prepared forms and checklists, and allows additions and deletions to be made as needed to match specific company needs.

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NECA Offers FREE Guide to State Electrical Regulations

NECA Guide to State Electrical Codes, Enforcement and Licensing (2002) has just been released. An invaluable — and free — reference for contractors, manufacturers and others who operate in multiple jurisdictions around the country, NECA’s guide summarizes information about electrical codes, enforcement and inspection, and contractor/electrician licensing in every state plus the District of Columbia.

Each entry provides the following:

Code: Whether a state adopts the National Electrical Code for regulatory use, or leaves this up to local jurisdictions.
Enforcement: Whether inspections and code enforcement are handled on a statewide basis, performed by cities and counties, or delegated to third-party agencies.
Licensing: Details about electrical contractor and electrician licensing, including applicable fees and different classes of licenses.
Contact: Name, address, phone/fax numbers, and website information for state agencies that regulate electrical construction.
NECA Guide to State Electrical Codes, Enforcement and Licensing (2002) is based on up-to-date information provided by the association’s 120 chapters around the U.S. “There is no other publication of its kind,” observes Pearl Parker, NECA standards associate. “It has proven to be NECA’s most popular downloaded document.” The new state regulations guide updates and revises previous 2000 edition.

Ordering Information. NECA Guide to State Electrical Codes, Enforcement and Licensing (2002) is available for free downloading in PDF format from At the home page, click “Online Catalog” and follow the instructions. The guide is the first publication listed. It is not available as a hard-copy paper booklet.

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Mechanical Contractors Join Uproar Over Proposed Specification System Changes

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has strongly urged the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) to retain the historic 16-division structure of its MasterFormat model specification system.

In a strongly-worded letter, MCAA president Robert FitzGerald cautioned CSI that “abandoning the current Division 15 (mechanical) and 16 (electrical) structures that have come to be relied upon by industry for a variety of important ancillary purposes ... will promote fragmentation in project administration and delivery ... even while the overwhelming pattern of best practices trends are toward ever-greater project integration.”

“We’re glad to see the mechanical contractors making themselves heard on the critical issue of MasterFormat specification changes,” said Brooke Stauffer, NECA executive director for standards and safety. “It’s important that the construction industry come together and present a unified front against these ill-advised revisions in what has become a de facto industry standard for how construction projects are organized and run.”

The current MasterFormat division structure should be preserved, MCAA advised, precisely because the document is widely relied upon to organize essential project administration/delivery functions.

These include:

• Accounting systems
• Scheduling, planning, and record keeping systems
• Bid depositories
• Product catalogues
• Building code enforcement classification systems
Breaking up Divisions 15 and 16 risks greater fragmentation of project work scopes, thus increasing the likelihood of overlapping or missed work and increasing the risk of claims, disputes, delays and other negative consequences for construction projects.

“Poorly coordinated projects are the breeding grounds for wasteful litigation,” wrote MCAA’s FitzGerald. “The negative practical consequences stemming from abandonment of the established MasterFormat divisions far outweigh any perceived advantages from sudden change.” These include the many millions of dollars that it will cost to retool software built around Divisions 15 and 16, he observed.

NECA has also opposed changing the basic structure of CSI’s MasterFormat model specification system. Instead, the electrical contractors’ organization advocates combining all power, communications, and control technologies into an expanded Division 16 covering Integrated Building Systems. For more information, visit

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) has scheduled a stakeholder meeting for August 2, 2002 in Alexandria, Virginia, to gather input from industry on sweeping changes proposed for the MasterFormat systems. Both NECA and MCAA will have high-level representation at the meeting.

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Upcoming meetings of interest to the codes & standards community:

July 15–19: NFPA Standards Council, Boston, MA
July 16: NFPA Technical Coorelating Committee on Signaling Systems for the Protection of Life and Property, Boston, MA
July 31–Aug 1: ANSI Board of Standards Review, New York, NY
Sep 8–12: IAEI Northwestern Section, Bellevue, WA
Sep 11–12: NFPA Technical Committee on Telecommunications, New Orleans, LA
Sep 15–18: IAEI Western Section, Kearney, NE
Sep 24–25: NFPA Technical Committee on Premises Security, Rosemont, IL
Oct 6–9: IAEI Eastern Section, Lancaster, PA
Oct 13–16: IAEI Southern Section, Nashville, TN
Oct 14–18: World Standards Week, Washington, DC (for more information visit www.
Oct 20–24: IAEI Southwestern Section, Honolulu, HI

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New chairman for NECA C&S committee Howard D. Hughes has been named chairman of the NECA Codes and Standards Committee.

A 14-year C&S veteran, Hughes is also a NECA regional vice president and member of the board of governors. Hughes represents NECA on Code-Making Panel No. 4. He is president of Hughes Electric Company in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Electrical code exemption? The May 2002 issue of NEMA’s Electroindustry reported that during recent adoption hearings for the Indiana Residential Code, a proposal was submitted to exempt one- and two-family Amish dwellings from the requirement that all new residences be wired for electricity. Although the Amish shun most modern conveniences including electricity, all new homes are required to have wiring, whether or not electricity will be used in the residence.

Wiring Simplified celebrates 40th edition Wiring Simplified, a well-known guide to residential and farm wiring that has been published continuously for seventy years, has just been released in an updated 40th edition. First authored by H.P. Richter, the reference was edited and revised by Creighton W. Schwan over the last two decades. This latest version, based on the requirements of the 2002 National Electrical Code, is the first by Frederic P. Hartwell. Wiring Simplified is priced at just $10.95, plus shipping and handling. It can be ordered from Park Publishing Inc. at (800) 841-0383 or

U.S. Army technical publications online The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Power Reliability Enhancement Program (PREP) has posted more than 20 on its Technical Guidance Publications online, for free downloading. These publications combine design, installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting information for a wide range of electrical products and systems. Visit mil/cemp/cemps/prep/techreports.htm. PREP also publishes a quarterly newsletter devoted to power quality topics; to subscribe send a message to the editor at

New York City to adopt 1999 NEC New York City, which has followed its own unique electrical wiring code for many years, has begun working toward the goal of adopting the 1999 National Electrical Code. According to Mario Penzi, director of the city’s Department of Buildings, the shift in thinking was spurred by the disastrous events of September 11. “The 1999 NEC, with amendments where necessary to meet any unique circumstances found in New York City, will insure that future rebuilding efforts benefit from updated technical standards,” he said.

NECA 2000 Chicago The NECA Convention and Show will be held October 5-8, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. It takes place at McCormick Place Lakeside Center, and will feature many management and technical programs as well as a trade show with more than 250 exhibitors. For more information and details, contact (301) 215-4506, (301) 215-4552 or

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Articles by and about NECA Standards & Safety have appeared recently in the following publications:

ConstrucTech online news, “NECA Releases New Confined Space Safety Guidelines,” June 13, 2002
Engineering Times, “PEC Seeks Broader-Based Input on Electrical Quality Standards,” June 2002
Power Outlet, “New National Electrical Installation Standards Serve Owner’s Interests,” Spring/Summer 2002
Kansas City Star, “Installation Standards Expand on Electrical Code Requirements,” May 7, 2002
Electrical Contractor (EC), “NECA Fire Alarm Standard is Latest NEIS,” May 2002
CEE News, “Code Question of the Day Author Publishes New Electrical Textbook,” April 17, 2002

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N.E. Code Technical Correlating Committee, Michael D. Toman (principal), MEGA Power Electrical Services Inc., Gaithersburg, MD.

N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 11, Stanley J. Folz (alternate), Folz Electric Inc., Roscoe, IL.

N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 13, Richard Sobel (alternate), Quantum Electric Corporation, Long Island City, NY.

N.E. Code-Making Panel No. 17, D. Harold Ware (alternate), Libra Electric Company, Oklahoma City, OK.

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Industry Appeals NFPA Decision on NM Cable

Controversy is still raging over the National Fire Protection Association’s awkward handling of a change in Type NM cable rules for the 2002 National Electrical Code.

In a surprisingly public display of disagreement, a number of electrical industry organizations — all traditional NFPA allies — has filed an appeal with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The complaint charges that NFPA failed to follow its own procedures in the controversial issue.

The 2002 NEC eliminated the historic three-story limitation on the use of nonmetallic-sheathed cable in wood buildings. The responsible Code-Making Panel (CMP) had rejected Proposal 7-137, submitted by apartment-building interests, and the rejection was upheld by the NEC Technical Correlating Committee. But in a move that shocked the electrical industry, NFPA’s Standards Council overruled the TCC and upheld Proposal 7-137. A coalition of electrical industry organizations then filed an appeal with NFPA’s Board of Directors, which supported the earlier Standards Council action. The final effect was to permit the use of Type NM cable in buildings as high as five stories.

Now a group of electrical organizations have filed a higher-level appeal with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which approves the NEC and many other NFPA technical documents. But the issues at stake aren’t technical, say those who have followed the controversy since its beginnings, nearly two years ago. “The real danger here is that we’re compromising the consensus process,” observes Richard Loyd, a well-known NEC consultant, author, and member of CMP-5 and CMP-8. “The things NFPA has done in this matter threaten the integrity of the whole way the Code is developed.”

“This isn’t about expanding the uses of NM cable,” says Brooke Stauffer, executive director of standards and safety for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). “It’s about fairness and due process. NFPA ran roughshod over its own technical experts, the committee members responsible for deciding what the Code rules should be. They didn’t follow their own ANSI-accredited procedures.” The American National Standards Institute, based in Washington, DC, is expected to hear the appeal in July. If the appellants prevail, possible outcomes could include loss of ANSI accreditation for NFPA, or changes in the organization’s standards-development procedures.

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