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Code Alert: South Carolina, 06 April 2009



South Carolina 2008 National Electrical Code®Adoption & Implementation

On February 25,2009, Chairman Frank Hodge, Building Official for the City of Hilton Head Island, SC, presided and opened a meeting of the South Carolina Building Code Council to receive a report from the South Carolina Code Study Committee, Chaired by Herb Yingling, that recently met to review the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code. At this meeting, the Council voted to accept the South Carolina Code Study Committee’s recommended actions. The only amendment recommended by that Committee is as follows:

90.2(B)(5)(b) was amended in that the language in this section in the 2008 National Electrical Code® was replaced with the language in the same section of the 2005 National Electrical Code®. The key element being that the words “or by other agreements” would remain as a part of the electrical installation code in the State of South Carolina.

On March 30,2009, Chairman Frank Hodge presided and opened the meeting of the South Carolina Building Codes Council to formally vote on the adoption of the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code®. The Council voted unanimously to formally adopt the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code® and to implement the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code® on July 1, 2009. The acceptance of the 2008 NEC by the SC Building Code Council will enhance the safety of its citizens by; introducing tamper resistant receptacles, providing additional AFCI protected circuits, and expanding GFCI protection. The only amendment voted on as a part of these proceedings’ was the 90.2(B)(5)(b) amendment shown above with the existing amendment shown below to 210.12(B) not being mentioned during the South Carolina Building Codes Council Meeting on March 30, 2009 or at any other public hearings held by the Code Study Committee or by Building Code Council members.

A holdover amendment, first adopted during the review and adoption of the 2005 National Electrical Code®, was held over for the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code®. The amendment was not mentioned during the entire review process by either the South Carolina Code Study Committee or the South Carolina Building Code Council as no formal request was made for reconsideration of this amendment. The provision for holding over an amendment is covered by state law passed in 2004 and is located in Title 6 - Local Government - Provisions Applicable to Special Purpose Districts and Other Political Subdivisions, Chapter 9, Building Codes, Section 6-9-40(C) that reads:

(C) Modifications promulgated pursuant to this section do not require readoption by the council for subsequent editions of the building codes. Upon submission of a formal request, existing modifications shall be reconsidered each time a new edition of the building code is considered for adoption by the council.

This amendment affects 210.12(B) and adds a 3rd exception (in the South Carolina version of 210.12(B)) to the two existing exceptions in this section to omit arc-fault protection in bedrooms for circuits serving smoke detectors only. This Exception No. 3 reads:

“A circuit serving no outlets within the bedroom except the smoke detector shall not be protected by an arc-fault protector.”

South Carolina has also adopted the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code®, effective July 1, 2009, that requires all smoke alarms to be listed in accordance with UL 217. Section R313.1 of the 2006 International Residential Code® allows a combination of smoke detector and audible notification device installed as required by this section for smoke alarms as long as such fire alarm system provides the same level of smoke detection and alarm as required by this section for smoke alarms and is installed in accordance with the provisions of NFPA 72. In addition, a modification to the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code®, number IRC 2006 32, to International Residential Code® Section E3802.12, arc-fault protection, was added to read:

“Exception: Arc-fault circuit interrupter protection is not required for outlets used solely for smoke and/or fire detection devices.”

Thus the hold-over amendment to 210.12(B), number NEC 2008 02, and the new amendment to E3802.12, number IRC 2006 32, concerning arc-fault circuit interrupter protection both compliment current requirements in the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code®, section 760.41(B) for non-power-limited fire alarm circuits and 760.121(B) for power-limited fire alarm circuits that requires an individual branch circuit and prohibits that individual branch circuit from being supplied through an arc-fault circuit interrupter. It must also be assumed that as 210.12(B), Exception No. 2 remains as a part of the South Carolina Building Code Council’s final adoption of the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code®, without amendment, South Carolina home builders and electrical contractors will continue to have a choice of raceway or cable protection for the branch circuit conductors where arc-fault circuit interrupter protection is omitted per Article 760 for the branch circuit serving a fire alarm system that utilizes smoke and/or fire detectors with a central audible notification device. 210.12(B), Exception No, 2 reads “Where a branch circuit to a fire alarm system installed in accordance with 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) is installed in RMC, IMC, EMT, or steel armored cable, Type AC, meeting the requirements of 250.118, with metal outlet and junction boxes, AFCI protection shall be permitted to be omitted.” For clarification, 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) deal with smoke detector systems and not individual station smoke alarms.

It is thus clear from the text in the International Residential Code®, Section R313.1 that such prohibition of arc-fault circuit interrupters in the two South Carolina amendments addressing arc-fault circuit interrupter protection will not apply to the installation of smoke alarms such as single station alarms supplied by 120-volt, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits. In addition, while such smoke alarms do not constitute a system such as with smoke detectors utilizing a central audible alarm, it is pointed out in International Residential Code®, Section R313.2 that where more than one such single station smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit, the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit. The amendments regarding clarification of arc-fault circuit interrupter requirements for smoke detectors with an audible notification device were proposed by the Home Builders of South Carolina no doubt in an effort to place safety first for the citizens of South Carolina by directly bringing attention to smoke detector system installation requirements in the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code®.

Contact: John Minick: john.minick@nema.org