In July, the Idaho Electrical Board opened a quarterly meeting for public input on adoption of the 2011 National Electrical Code® (NEC). Previously, the board forwarded two code packages to the legislature: one with the NEC virtually intact (except for amendments to swimming pool bonding), and the other maintaining the 2005 NEC provisions for arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) protection only for circuits serving bedrooms.
Several individuals testified on the AFCI issue, mostly in favor of adopting the expanded provisions. Even contractors who opposed the expansion admitted that the technology is solid; the appeal was to delay implementation because of the increased cost of the product plus the potential cost of modifying the wiring method to accommodate installation.
Support for inclusion of the 2011 NEC was led by Kreg Davis, a board member representing electrical distributors. Supporting testimony was offered by Ed Larson, Schneider; Tim McClintock, National Fire Protection Association; Jeff Fitzloff, Underwriters Laboratories; and Joe Andre, NEMA. A representative of the National Electrical Contractors Association also stated that there are no compelling reasons to continue to exempt this important safety item.
In a surprise action, the chair called for a motion that included the full provisions of the 2011 NEC for AFCI protection. The final vote was five-to-one in favor, with the chair indicating his support, even though that vote was not counted.
While this is a victory, it must be recognized that the legislature must still agree with the board’s recommendation. It is certain that it will be vigorously contested by homebuilders and some electrical contractors during the 2012 session. The industry cannot rest on this decision; it is important that the same effort be extended to the legislature to retain AFCI provisions.
The new electrical code is scheduled to take effect in July 2012.
See http://dbs.idaho.gov/programs/electrical/index.html for more information.
Joe Andre, Field Representative | firstname.lastname@example.org