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Code Alert: Utah, 21 September 2009

Utah Changes Course

It was reported here previously that Utah has drastically altered the way it adopts building codes. Until spring 2009, the Uniform Building Codes Commission was charged with adopting all of Utah’s construction codes, including any amendments it deemed necessary. It was rare that the Commission found it necessary to amend a model code. With the Governor’s signature, SB 211 was made law on March 25, 2009, giving the legislature adoption authority and relegating the Commission to an advisory roll.

Evidently, the Bill is intended to be retroactive, because now actions by the Commission that preceded the Governor’s signature are being revisited and possibly revised. On January 1, 2009, Utah began enforcement of the 2008 National Electrical Code without amendments. Now, with the legislation subject to heavy lobbying by the Utah Home Builders Association, several provisions that had been adopted are now on question, including arc fault circuit interrupters and tamper resistant receptacles. It appears that AFCI requirements will revert to the 2005 NEC and be required for bedroom circuits only based on a vote on August 12, 2009.

Tamper resistant receptacles might ultimately fare better, but the decision is still deadlocked at 4:4 even after several votes. NEMA’s Field Rep supplied information and educational materials on tamper resistant receptacles to representatives of the electrical industry in Utah in support of the provision as per the 2008 NEC. A discussion was also initiated with the fire service to answer questions about the technology and to rebut several statements by the home builders. The fire service representative could prove to be the vote to swing the Commission in favor of TR receptacles.

The next scheduled meeting of the full Commission is October 15 in Salt Lake City, though the agenda is not posted at this time. The issue of tamper resistant receptacles will undoubtedly be on the agenda. Information on these items and the entire Utah adoption process may be found at http://www.dopl.utah.gov/programs/ubc/index.html.

submitted by Joe Andre, Joe.andre@nema.org


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