September/October 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 5
by Jack Lyons, Northeast Field Representative, NEMA
The NEMA field representative program acts as the eyes and ears for the implementation of code requirements for NEMA Member products throughout the country. The program offers NEMA Members a method to reach out to the industry to educate on the use of products and code-compliant installation methods. NEMA Sections and industry councils can rely on the field reps to relay information regarding these concerns about their products from the field. One function of the FR program is to network with the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) and installers of products under the scope of NEMA.
One association the field representatives frequently align themselves with is the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI). This association’s membership is not limited to AHJs but is open to all aspects of the electrical industry. This includes contractors, AHJs, engineers, electricians, etc. The field reps engage these members of the industry through educational sessions at chapter meetings or large annual section meetings held throughout the country.
Building these relationships allows the field reps to participate in one-on-one conversations regarding the installation rules governed by the National Electrical Code® (NEC) and other installation codes, e.g., International Building Code (IBC), International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and even the International Mechanical Code (IMC). The adoption of these codes throughout the country is not always the latest and greatest, and therefore the field reps must engage with the regulatory agencies within each State to ensure up- to-date code adoption. The field reps must also be ready to help in interpreting in whatever version is adopted in any jurisdiction.
The Industrial Control Panel Council was developed by NEMA to help an industry that has seen many rules added to the last couple of versions of the codes related to control panels. Article 409 in the NEC and UL 508B have gone through some changes, and educating the industry is important to ensure proper installation and application of industrial control panels. Through the Council, the field representatives can determine what the biggest obstacles or concerns are from the industry, and through associations like the IAEI, the field representatives can help the industrial control panel sector educate the AHJs and installers.
Some goals that the field representatives can help this sector with are:
- Help Council members understand local and NEC code differences, interpretations, and changes
- Improved access to electrical installers and AHJs to help resolve issues
- Represent industry at electrical boards/Council meetings when discussing matters on industrial control panel issues
- Educate people about NEC Art. 409 related to UL 508A certification
The field reps engage with the States by participating with many of the regulatory agencies that are responsible for code adoption or even code interpretation within the State. The field reps monitor activities within their territories that may affect the installation of NEMA Member products. The field rep program is open to AHJs and individuals that have field questions or concerns about products and their compliance with current code requirements. Control panel applications that may trigger questions and concerns might be short circuit current ratings, overcurrent protection, etc. The tools that are developed by NEMA Sections and Councils like the Industrial Control Panel Council will assist the field representative program with delivering the correct information to the end users of products.
The field rep program offers four basic services to Members in the following categories: Codes and Standards Development, State and Local Codes and Standards Adoption Activity, Education and Training Activities, and Core Member Services. These offerings can help NEMA Members provide the end user with the proper guidance and understanding of all Standard-based products and the correct application for use. For more information, or to access the NEMA Field Representative Program, log on to nema.org/ standards/technical/fieldreps ei