National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Re: CQD answer published November 27 & December 6, 2019 -2020 NEC Emergency Disconnects - 2

Thanks to the many readers that sent in comments. We did not publish all of them but concepts included that some local rules already require them without the problems suggested, alarm systems usually have battery backup power, and it is safer to operate a switch than pull a meter.

We did not intend to start a discussion about whether an emergency disconnecting means external to certain buildings was warranted or not. That time has long passed.

Kevin, you seem to be opposed to the new rule but shared this example of emergency responders being able to access a vehicle engine compartment with a broken hood release which is a similar technique that could be used to remove a lock from a disconnect switch. Much safer than pulling a meter that was energized and carrying current.

Too long of a story IF you decide to print my question above, but despite all the attempts at ultimate 100% safety, it can't be done.  My mom's car started running poorly, so we pulled into a gas station.  I looked around and could hear something, so I bent over and saw a reddish glow coming from the engine compartment.  FIRE!  So I got my mom and our cat out of the car and pushed it away from the gas pump with the car in neutral.  I got back out to try to see what was going on, when suddenly the starter began running.  It had shorted out the wiring, causing an electrical fire, which then got going enough to short out the starter, which of course began literally adding fuel to the fire.  Another interesting aspect was the fire burnt through the hood release cable, so I couldn't open the hood either, which might have been fortunate.  Those firefighters got there, smoke billowing out from the front of the car, even blocking the entire street, and within a second had ripped the hood open and were fighting the fire, it was incredible to see. They had it out quickly, and everybody was OK.


If anyone thinks it is a bad idea, submit your Public Input for the 2023 NEC with reasons why. A wise individual stated that if you don't get involved and try to fix anything you think is a problem, you don't have the right to complain.

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CHARLIE TROUT: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Even though Charlie passed away in October of 2015, his work continues in spirit. NECA continues to maintain this question forum for its many subscribers in memory and recognition of all his significant contributions to making the NEC what it is today.

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