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Code Alert: Washington, 24 February 2009

The State of Washington adopted, and began enforcement of, the 2008 National Electrical Code, with amendments, on December 31, 2008. Significant amendments include limiting the requirement for arc fault circuit interruption protection only to bedroom circuits. Combination-type AFCI devices are required for protection of those circuits. In a reversal of policy for the past 6 years, the State will not require smoke alarm wiring to be protected from arcing faults, though there was no substantiation offered when this move was questioned.

In a significant victory for child safety, the Electrical Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of stakeholders in the electrical industry in the State, overwhelmingly voted to include tamper resistant requirements for dwellings per 406.11. This vote makes an important statement, since the Electrical Department recommended postponing the requirement for at least another year. Obviously, the industry understands the importance of these cost-effective devices in reducing incidents of electrical shock and burns in children. The Washington Electrical web site is http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Electrical/default.asp.

Notably, Washington cities are allowed to implement their own electrical inspection programs provided the requirements are not less than what the State requires. In a coordinated effort, many cities have collectively decided to implement the full requirements of 210.12 of the 2008 NEC, requiring AFCI protection for most 120 volt circuits in dwellings. Some cities have already ratified and implemented the new requirements, with more anticipating doing so soon. The major jurisdictions of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Spokane appear certain to implement\t the full protection offered by arc fault circuit interrupters in the near future.

Contact: Joe Andre: joe.andre@nema.org


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