Celebrating NFPA’s 125th Anniversary and its Rich History with the NEC; Year-Long Anniversary Education Conference Series Kicks Off with One-Day Electrical Program on May 18
NFPA is 125 years young! Founded in 1896 by like-minded visionaries looking to better protect society from the devastating effects of fire, our vital mission has transcended the 10-plus decades that have passed since we first came to be. Organizations do not reach the age of 125 unless there is a compelling reason to exist. As it was in the beginning, it is still true today. Fire, electrical and other hazards adversely affect our society in many ways. As society evolves so, too, do the hazards we face. While implementation of NFPA codes and standards has ameliorated many hazards, new ones arise and the challenge of making people safer is why NFPA is just as important today as we were 125 years ago.
Coincidentally, another group of safety professionals met in March 1896 to take on a parallel challenge. Their task: how to make the burgeoning use of electricity and its associated hazards safe for installations in homes and businesses. Their efforts resulted in the first electrical code that could truly be viewed as a national standard. The first edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) was published by the National Board of Fire Underwriters in 1897 and standardized electrical safety requirements so that installers, designers, manufacturers, product testing organizations, and inspectors had a single set of installation requirements that could be implemented anywhere. The codification of these standardized rules laid the foundation for the most well-known and widely used construction code in the world.
The parallel paths of NFPA and the National Electrical Code intersected in 1911 when NFPA assumed the sponsorship of the National Electrical Code. The Code’s mission perfectly meshed with the NFPA mission and since 1911, 36 subsequent editions of the NEC have been published by NFPA.
Like the community that uses it, the NEC is dynamic. The electrical world doesn’t stop and take a breath when each new NEC is published. Advancements in technology and products necessitate the NEC community to always be looking forward, not backwards. Implementation of new technology and methods require an up-to-date installation standard and that is why the process rewinds every three years and starts again. Beginning in November, the over 500 members of the National Electrical Code Committee met to review and act on proposed changes for the 2023 edition. Eighteen technical committees, known in the NEC process as “Code-Making Panels” convened to do the all-important work. These CMP meetings were preceded by countless hours of task group work in preparation for the actual meetings. And, unlike any NEC meeting in the past, the 2023 First Draft meetings had to be held virtually due to the pandemic. Despite this changeup in meeting format, the process continued like a well-oiled machine, processing 4,006 public inputs. We invite you to continue to follow the 2023 NEC development process by going to www.nfpa.org/70 and clicking on the “Next Edition” tab.
While electrical equipment and wiring practices have changed immeasurably since the first meeting in 1896, the mission of making electrical installations safe remains unchanged. Like the original members of the NEC committee, today’s members approach their task with energy and dedication because they know their work has an outcome that benefits millions. Every receptacle, luminaire, panelboard, and solar photovoltaic panel installed is safety driven by the NEC. While the work is hard, and the hours are long, the men and women of the NEC committee do their work with the satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference.
To commemorate its milestone anniversary, and to honor the work of safety professionals around the globe and the impact it has had on the public’s safety, NFPA is rolling out a number of initiatives and events from May 2021 – March 2022, including hosting a 125th Anniversary Conference Series featuring 10 one-day virtual educational programs. On May 18, we are excited to kick it off with the first program of the series: Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety. The full-day program event is focused on advances in technology, the impact of new technologies on electrical codes and standards, and how technology is influencing today’s industry, with sessions led by leading subject matter experts who are passionate about electrical safety. From in-depth educations sessions to roundtable discussions and networking events, this unique virtual educational program has everything electrical practitioners need to remain competitive in the field and improve safety outcomes on the job.
You don’t want to miss this exciting program! Visit our conference series webpage to get all the details and sign up to attend.
More information about the full roster of programs happening throughout the year is also available. Not sure you’ll be able to attend? Every program is available on demand to meet your needs and fit your busy schedule. Please visit nfpa.org/conferenceseries to learn about our anniversary celebration and our conference series’ programs. I look forward to seeing you all there!