Every cycle, the NEC is the product of tens of thousands of hours of work by members of our code-writing panels, our correlating committee, our Standards Council, and countless others who work in our system. We are assisted enormously in our development and adoption efforts by dedicated volunteers from organizations such as the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Underwriters Laboratories, the Independent Electrical Contractors, and Edison Electrical Institute, just to name a few.
The NEC goes all the way back to 1897 and was developed to deal with the growing problem of fires attributed to an electrical origin. Since 1959, it has been revised every three years.
The NEC is recognized (almost) universally in the United States, and every electrical apprentice and training program places a heavy emphasis on its provisions.
The NEC has been officially adopted in Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador; is used throughout Latin America and Asia; and has been translated into Spanish, Korean, Thai, and Japanese. In fact, the NEC is the most widely accepted building construction code in the world.
The number of lives and the amount of property saved every year because of the NEC are incalculable. While electrical installations have been around for a long time, the pace of change in technology has required that the venerable NECnot stand pat, but be open to constant change in how electricity is used and how safety can be maintained around electrical installations.
Look around your office or your home or into your child's room. Consider the increased uses of electricity in the last years. PCs, VCRs, DVDs, microwave ovens, powerful hair dryers, electric garage door openers, air conditioning, a whole array of helpful appliances for consumers that create a demand for electricity beyond what anyone might have imagined just a few years ago. An even greater growth in electrical applications has taken place in industrial applications. All of this has been made possible because the NEC has established the rules that allow for the safe use of so much electricity. Individuals and business don't have to worry about the safety of electrical installations if they know that the premises have been properly inspected and meet the requirements of the NEC.
The universal acceptance of the NEC should not lead us to take the issue of electrical safety for granted. The NEC holds its unique place in the nation's and much of the world's safety system because hundreds of people who work in the NFPA process and thousands who work in the electrical industries, labor unions, and academia are constantly studying ways to keep pace with changes in technology and society to make the NEC even better. This dynamic process, combining NFPA's tradition of achieving consensus based on sound technical analysis with a commitment to accommodating progressive technological change, is what makes the NEC as vital today as it has ever been.
I have always believed that the NEC shows NFPA at its best as an organization focused on its mission to save lives and protect property and dedicated to serving the public. All of those involved with the NEC, the participants in the development process, the electrical inspectors, and other members of the enforcement community and the professionals in labor and industry who work with the NEC every day, all share the credit for this landmark document and its gargantuan contribution to safety, and they all deserve our thanks.