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07 November Virginia


State of Virginia

Ground-Fault Circuit Protection in Residential Garages in Jeopardy

In 1978, the National Electrical Code (NEC) added GFCI requirements to garages of dwelling units, partially due to concern with the amount of grounded (concrete) surface, and the fact that many hand-held tools did not have an equipment grounding conductor. While many of today’s hand-held tools have double insulated cords, the potential of damage to the cords, metal refrigeration equipment and metal garage door openers that expose potentially conductive surfaces still remains a potential hazard in this specific environment.

It is important to know that in 2013 we have over 50 years of experience in ground-fault circuit protection technology which has proven to save lives. So it may come as a shock to all Virginians to hear that your Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development proposed an amendment to the International Residential Code [IRC] to remove the requirements for GFCI Protected Circuits for Refrigeration Equipment and Garage Door Openers in residential garages. The BHCD believes that installing a single receptacle in the aforementioned locations are acceptable without GFCI protection. NEMA strongly disagrees with this position and supports the original language expressed in IRC E3902.2 which requires all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in residential garages to have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel, without exception.

During the October 28, 2013 Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development [BHCD]meeting some of the board members listened to my explanation of how GFCI’s function as I referred to various published articles related to electrocutions from branch circuits not protected by GFCI Devices in residential garages. The BHCD agreed not to vote on this proposed amendment and move the vote to December 16, 2013 at the Virginia Housing Center located in Glen Allen, VA. The Chairman of the Board of Housing again made various supporting statements that expressed his lack of understanding of how GFCI devices function and why his proposal is putting Virginian’s at risk.

Since the December 16, 2013 meeting will not be a public hearing I recommend sending letters to the following individuals expressing your opposition to amending E3902.2 for GFCI protection within residential garages and request each of the individuals present your letter to the members of the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development Council. As an alternative you can also email your letter to Steve Calhoun as well . Request Mr. Calhoun to present your letter of opposition to the board prior to the December 16th meeting.

Emory Rogers, Deputy Director
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219

Steve Calhoun
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219
steve.calhoun@d​hcd.virginia.go​v    

William Shelton, Director
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219

Meeting Location:

Virginia Housing Center
4224 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA
December 16, 2013
Convening at 9:30 AM

Contact: Paul Abernathy: Paul.Abernathy@NEMA.org