Topic: NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates

Changes to Kitchen Island and Peninsula Receptacle Outlet Requirements for the Past Three NEC Editions

Requirements for kitchen island and peninsula receptacle outlets have been a part of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) since the 1990 edition. At that time, 210.52(c) stated: “Island and peninsula counter tops 12 inches (305 millimeters) or wider shall have at least one receptacle for each four feet (1.22 meters) of counter top.” Over the course of the next 30-plus years, there were many significant changes made around island and peninsula receptacle outlet requirements within the NEC. Perhaps no changes to these requirements represented a larger swing of the pendulum than those we have seen over the past three cycles: the 2017, 2020, and 2023 NEC.   2017 NEC Requirements   The following are the relevant sections and requirements for island and peninsula receptacle outlets based on the 2017 NEC. They have been paraphrased in this blog. ·       210.52(C)(2) and 210.52(C)(3) require at least one receptacle to be installed at each island or peninsula having a countertop with a long dimension of 24 inches (600 millimeters) or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches (300 millimeters) or greater. o   The peninsula countertop dimension is measured from the connected perpendicular wall. ·       210.52(C), Exception to (5) allows for receptacle outlets to be mounted a maximum of 12 inches (300 millimeters) below island and peninsula countertops and work surfaces as long as they are not located where the countertop or work surface extends more than 6 inches (150 millimeters) beyond its support base, in either of these two scenarios: o   Where the construction is for the physically impaired. o   On island or peninsula countertops or work surfaces where the surface is entirely flat (e.g., no backsplash) and has no means to mount a receptacle within 20 inches above the countertop or work surface, such as on an overhead cabinet. One of the significant changes between the 2014 and 2017 NEC requirements was in 210.52(C)(3) addressing peninsular countertop spaces. In the 2014 NEC, the peninsular countertop was required to be measured from the “connecting edge,” which was then changed to measuring from the “connected perpendicular wall” in the 2017 NEC. In the 2017 NEC, 210.52(C), Exception to (5) was revised to also include “work surfaces” as being a part of the requirement, along with countertops. This is consistent with changes in other areas within 210.52 of the 2017 NEC that added the term work surfaces, including changing the title of 210.52(C) to “Countertops and Work Surfaces.”   2020 NEC Requirements   In the 2020 NEC, island and peninsula receptacle outlet requirements saw a major overhaul from those in the 2017 NEC. Where the 2017 NEC required at least one receptacle outlet to be installed in islands and peninsulas with a long dimension of 24 inches or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches or greater, there was never a scenario that required more than one receptacle outlet to be installed in these locations. Changes to the 2020 NEC required at least one receptacle outlet to be installed in all islands and peninsulas, and potentially more depending on the overall square footage of the countertop or work surface for the island or peninsula. Here is an overview of the changes to 210.52(C) in the 2020 NEC (paraphrased): ·      210.52(C)(2) has been revised to cover both islands and peninsulas and has added the following requirements: o   At least one receptacle outlet must be installed within an island or peninsula for the first 9 square feet (0.84 square meters), or fraction thereof, of the countertop or work surface. o   An additional receptacle outlet must be installed within an island or peninsula for each additional 18 square feet (1.7 square meters), or fraction thereof, of the countertop or work surface. o   At least one receptacle outlet must be installed within 2 feet (600 millimeters) of the outer end of a peninsula countertop or work surface. o   Additional required receptacle outlets are permitted to be located as determined by the installer, designer, or building owner. o   A peninsula countertop must be measured from the connected perpendicular wall. o   The location of the receptacle outlets must be in accordance with 210.52(C)(3). The picture below depicts a 3-foot by 8-foot island. Based on changes to the 2020 NEC, the first 9 square feet (represented by the light blue area) require a receptacle outlet to be installed. That leaves a 3-foot by 5-foot area remaining in the yellow area. That area totals 15 square feet, therefore falling into a fraction of an additional 18 square feet and requiring an additional receptacle on the island, for a total of two. The locations that these two receptacles are installed must be done in accordance with 210.52(C)(3).   For the 2020 NEC, 210.52(C)(3) was revised to cover receptacle outlet locations, which were previously covered in the 2017 NEC by 210.52(C)(5). Revised 210.52(C)(3) provides three different list items identifying where island and peninsula receptacles are permitted to be located (paraphrased): 1.     On or above countertop or work surfaces, but no more than 20 inches above. 2.     In the countertop or work surface using a receptacle outlet assembly that is listed for the application. 3.     Where installed not more than 12 inches below the countertop or work surface and not located where the countertop or work surface extends more than 6 inches beyond its support base. Receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible or are located in assigned spaces for appliances within the peninsula or island (e.g., dishwasher, mini fridge, etc.) are not permitted to count as the required receptacles outlets for the island or peninsula.   2023 NEC Requirements   Section 210.52(C)(2) saw extensive revisions between the 2020 and 2023 NEC. All of the requirements around receptacle outlets being installed based on the square footage of the countertop and work surface of islands and peninsulas were removed. Perhaps more significant, the requirement for any receptacle to be installed within islands and peninsulas was removed. You read that right: No receptacle outlet is required to be installed within islands or peninsulas based on the 2023 NEC—with a caveat. The revisions to 210.52(C)(2) in the 2023 NEC essentially changed island and peninsula receptacles to have two requirements (paraphrased): 1.     Receptacle outlets in islands and peninsulas, if installed, must be done in accordance with 210.52(C)(3). 2.     If a receptacle outlet is not provided for islands and peninsulas, provisions must be provided for the addition of a receptacle outlet in the future. Note: The means by which the provision is made for a future receptacle outlet is not stated by the NEC; therefore, the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) will need to be consulted to determine what they will consider as meeting this requirement.   Watch a related video from the NFPA LiNK® YouTube channel Section 210.52(C)(3) has also been revised for the 2023 NEC, essentially to provide the following three options for where island and peninsula receptacle outlets can be installed (paraphrased): 1.     On or above countertop or work surfaces, but no more than 20 inches above. 2.     In a countertop using a receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in countertops. 3.     In a work surface using a receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in work surfaces or listed for use in countertops. What can be noted as a major change in the 2023 NEC from the receptacle outlet location options for islands and peninsulas in 210.52(C)(3) of the 2020 NEC, is the ability to install receptacle outlets below countertops and work surfaces. Receptacle outlets for islands and peninsulas are no longer able to be installed below the countertop and work surface level. As part of its substantiation for the change, NEC Code Making Panel 2 cited Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data showing that between 1991 and 2020, an estimated 9,700 people, many of them children, were treated in United States emergency departments for burns and other injuries after pulling on or running into power cords plugged into receptacle outlets installed below island and peninsula work surfaces.  Those who opposed the change, however, cited accessibility concerns. Because of this change, as well as other changes to 210.52(C)(2) and (C)(3), the 2023 NEC essentially provides three options for island and peninsula receptacle outlet installations, or non-installations, as depicted in the bullet points and photo below: ·      Option 1 permits the installation of receptacle outlets above the countertop or work surface, but not more than 20 inches above. Islands and peninsulas with elevated backsplashes present an opportunity for using this option. ·      Option 2 permits installation of receptacle outlets within the countertop or work surface, provided a receptacle outlet assembly listed for the application is utilized. ·      Option 3 is utilized when no receptacle outlet is installed within the island or peninsula. In that case, the 2023 NEC requires a future provision to be made where a receptacle outlet could be installed at a later date. The junction box with protective flexible conduit for the NM-B cable is just one example of how this could possibly be done, but it is not required to be done this way per the 2023 NEC.     Change and the NEC are practically synonymous. But it is rare that we see such drastic changes in requirements within the same section of the NEC over such close cycles. Personally, I believe that these changes show how important it is for the public to get involved in the NFPA® standards development process. Whether you’re an individual with relevant data that you can provide or an electrician that has an idea of what should change, the safety that the NEC provides depends on your input. I encourage everyone to learn more about the standards development process to get involved.

First draft of NFPA 1970 proposes changes to firefighter PPE standard and will be open for review and Public Comment through January 4, 2023

In my continuing effort to keep interested parties apprised of the latest standards activity related to firefighting gear and conversations about the presence of PFOAs, the first draft of the upcoming edition of NFPA 1970, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural and Proximity Firefighting, Work Apparel and Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services, and Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) has been posted online and is now available for review and Public Comment through January 4, 2023. One of the proposed changes within the draft includes the elimination of the light degradation resistance test on the moisture barrier layer of jackets. It will be replaced by a multi-environmental conditioning procedure (9.1.22) that will be applied to composite test samples before certain tests. Some of the additional changes in the NFPA 1971 portion (protective ensembles) of NFPA 1970 include: Added new requirements for manufacturer indication of “PFAS FREE” gear. (6.1.7.6 & 6.4.13) Added new requirements for acceptable levels of specific restricted substances and added a test method to determine the presence and quantity of specific restricted substances. (7.1.14, 7.4.9, 7.7.6, 7.10.10, 7.13.7, 8.20, & 9.83) The Correlating Committee recommended to consider adding similar requirements for SCBA in Chapter 17 of NFPA 1970 (NFPA 1981 portion). Added requirements to test for ease of cleaning. (8.1.29, 8.4.17, 8.7.26, 8.10.19, 8.13.12, & 9.81) Added requirements to test for effectiveness of cleaning. (8.2.7 & 9.82) Added requirements to test for liquid repellency and penetration resistance of persistent contaminants. (8.2.8 & 9.84) Added requirements to test for leaching of material substances. (8.2.9 & 9.85) It’s important to note that these proposed changes and additions reflect the recommendations of the Technical and Correlating Committee on Hazardous Substances in the NFPA 1970 First Draft Report. As I outlined in a previous blog, NFPA does not create or dictate the provisions within our codes and standards. NFPA is the neutral facilitator of the standards development process; each standard is developed by balanced voluntary technical committees. It is an open and transparent process in which anyone (except NFPA staff) can review and provide input and comment. I strongly encourage everyone who has opinions, perspectives, and insights on these proposed changes to make sure their voices are heard by the committee. Comments will be accepted through January 4, 2023. Anyone who believes the first draft of the standard should be changed to address these and other topics is strongly encouraged to submit proposed changes (public comment) to the next edition of the standard. You do not have to be an NFPA member or on an NFPA Technical Committee to provide comment and propose additional changes.  Anyone (except NFPA staff) can propose a change to the standard by suggesting specific wording and providing a technical rationale through our online submission system, which is accessible at nfpa.org/1970next.  The deadline for Public Comment is January 4, 2023. In the following months, the Technical and Correlating Committees will consider all of the proposed changes received by the deadline and will develop a Second Draft of NFPA 1970.  NFPA anticipates that the Second Draft Reports will be posted for public review in the Fall of 2023. Throughout the process, the latest information on this standard can be found at nfpa.org/1970next.

Five reasons why high-stakes education has a role in safety

High-stakes education refers to learning and development that results in attaining a credential.  This credential may come in many forms, including: Traditional degrees and certificates from a higher education or professional institute (i.e., Masters, PHD, or Professional Certificate Programs, etc.) Professional licenses or qualifications that allow holders to perform specific tasks and/or roles (i.e., driver license, licensed electrician, or qualified electrical worker, etc.) Contemporary micro-credentials that signify an educational or performance achievement (i.e., digital badges that can be found on BADGR or Credly and shared online) Internal or external professional certification programs and designations with qualification requirements, rigorous examination, and continuing education and renewal requirements (i.e., NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialists, Scrum masters, Society of HR Management or Project Management Institute Certifications, etc.) Credentials can be used to prequalify candidates for jobs, projects, and promotions; bolster a company’s qualification for bidding on client projects; and in marketing campaigns to prove the company’s commitment to quality.  Regulators and employers have also used credentials to set the baseline for competency to improve performance and safety. High-stakes education and credentials help ensure that facilities, fire protection and life safety systems, and work safety programs are well designed, managed, and maintained.  This in turn keeps productivity disruption- and incident-free; lives and property safe; and operator and employer reputations free of citations, fines, and bad press. Here are five more reasons why high-stakes education are helpful within the NFPA Fire and Life safety Ecosystem™: Vigilance: Vigilance is the opposite of complacency, and complacency is the enemy of a safety culture. As workplaces and communities evolve, companies must be vigilant in their pursuit of best practices and emerging codes and standards related to safety. Training aligned with certifications developed by subject matter experts that require continuing education help to ensure that their people are getting the right training to pass a rigorous certification exam and maintaining that high bar through continuous professional development. Investing in people: The retirement of the baby boomer generation and the great resignation from the workforce have left many organizations with deep experience gaps. However, organizations can make up for some of this gap by investing in high-stakes education to consistently set and raise the baseline of knowledge and skills for less experienced professionals. An investment in high-stakes education is also an investment in the workforce, which leads to higher employee engagement, loyalty, and quality of their work. When organizations and individuals spend time and energy on high-stakes education, they become more invested in its outcome. There is a direct correlation between pride and performance for having achieved a credential through high-stakes education. Raising the bar: Employers do not want to suffer financially and reputationally for avoidable incidents. Clients do not want disruptions or rework caused by failed inspections. Code enforcers do not want to waste limited resources and time reviewing recurring non-compliant designs and installations. Credentials earned through high-stakes education and certification help skilled professionals to stand out among their competition and provide peace of mind to key stakeholders. Companies investing in high-stakes education for their workforce are signaling to internal and external stakeholders that safety is part of their brand promise and that they intend to get the work done right the first time. Compliance: Regulators demand formal training as part of safety programs. High-stakes education signals to regulators that the organization is serious about its compliance with regulatory requirements. While organizations should always complement external programs with internal education on policies and procedures, externally managed credential and high-stakes education help to alleviate internal resources for program development, maintenance, and management. Safety culture – Credentials that have regular recertification or renewal periods and continuing education requirements help to keep workforce knowledge and skills relevant. Professionals who maintain their credentials are keeping up with emerging issues, changes in codes and standards, and the latest best practices in their respective fields. These requirements promote ongoing learning and curiosity as part of an effective safety culture in today’s disruptive environment. Competent and skilled professionals are critical for any business providing services or operating with fire, life, and electrical hazards. By incorporating high-stakes education into the workforce safety curriculum, an organization is investing in its people, results, and future. Find out more on how NFPA training and certifications can deliver high-stakes education to your business and workforce.

2021 “Ecosystem Year in Review Report” Highlights Successes and Tragedies and Resources Needed to Help Improve Global Community Safety

Fire and life safety deaths, injuries, and losses may be unexpected, but they do not happen by chance, according to the newly published 2021 Ecosystem Year in Review report by the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. The year 2021, says the report, was one of modest improvements and tragic setbacks that included massive wildfires, a fatal collapse of an elevated subway rail, and a hospital fire that all highlight how gaps in our global fire and life safety system can lead to tragedies. These and other examples illustrated in the seven-page report are the product of weaknesses in a community’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, a framework NFPA developed in 2018 that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, life, electrical, and other hazards. A lack of attention to any one of these elements results in greater risks and can create a significant safety threat. If just one element breaks down, people can be hurt. The Ecosystem is a key to understanding how decisions made over time can either exacerbate or control threats to safety. There are many steps to improving safety and more work to be done. But the key to reducing losses in the years to come is starting now to make these changes. Download the report to learn more. This year, the report is also available in Spanish and for the first time since the report’s inception, fire and life safety advocates can read the report in Arabic. Find additional resources and information about the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem on our webpage.  
A stormy sky over a city

During Hurricane Season, NFPA Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist Helps Electricians Assess Whether to Repair or Replace Electrical Systems Damaged in a Storm

June marks the start of hurricane season bringing with it strong and damaging storms that will impact many parts of the U.S. As such, building owners and managers of industrial and commercial facilities in these areas could find themselves working through the daunting process of disaster recovery once the initial danger has passed. When electrical systems are damaged in a natural or man-made disaster, electricians need to make a critical decision about whether the electrical equipment that was damaged can be salvaged or not. NFPA has created a checklist for electricians to help highlight and simplify key aspects of this decision-making process. The checklist builds off of recommendations in Chapter 32 of NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance (2019 edition), and includes: A list of disaster scenarios, which can inflict damage of varying degrees to facilities Steps for assessing equipment A priority assessment table Steps to help identify factors for replacement or repair The choice between repair and replace will not always be easy but following these simple suggestions can help make the difference between an impossible task and an informed decision. Download the free “Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist” and review the information. Having this information at your fingertips will be extremely valuable should your community call on you for your electrical experience and assistance in the aftermath of a storm or other weather-related event.   Need additional information? NFPA 70B is now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.
Buildings

Do all buildings have to comply with the latest code?

When constructing a new building it is imperative architects, engineers, contractors, and owners follow the most current codes and standards to provide what is considered the current minimum level of safety for a building. This minimum level of safety is established most often by consensus codes and standards which have been adopted by the jurisdiction where the building is being constructed. These codes and standards are constantly evolving, adapting to new technology and addressing gaps in safety. But what about existing buildings? Do they need to be brought up to the adopted code? The answer is often complicated and depends on the local codes in place as well as the type of occupancy. An example of this complexity occurs when you examine requirements for existing buildings in NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code as compared to NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. Both codes define an existing building as “A building erected or officially authorized prior to the effective date of the adoption of this edition of the Code by the agency or jurisdiction” however, the two codes treat them very differently. Looking in Chapter 1 of both codes the scope and purpose statements provide direction as to where codes apply and their overall intent. NFPA 5000 would not apply to existing buildings unless they undergo a change in use, some level of building rehabilitation, an addition or if the building is relocated or damaged. NFPA 101 has no such clause and applies to both new and existing buildings. Thus, where NFPA 5000 focuses on the design and construction of new buildings, NFPA 101 applies to both new and existing buildings with a focus on safety during the entire lifecycle of the building not just the initial design and construction. Under NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, buildings which have “been officially authorized” meaning they were designed and permitted in accordance with earlier editions of the building code, can remain in their original state. If they undergo the items mentioned earlier, they would be required to comply with the most current version of the building code. For example, the 2021 edition of NFPA 5000 requires all newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings to be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system. This was first introduced in the 2006 edition; and earlier editions did not contain this requirement.  In areas were NFPA 5000 is adopted, existing homes authorized for use prior to the adoption of the 2006 edition are not required to be retrofitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems. This concept of “officially authorized” or existing buildings, is one of the reasons we continue to see fires with a significant number of injuries and deaths. It’s not that the current level of safety expected in new buildings isn’t enough, it’s that the vast majority of the buildings in the U.S. and many other countries around the world were constructed under what was considered the minimum level of safety at the time.  That level of safety has evolved but requiring all buildings to be retroactively improved to meet the current codes and standards may be costly and could impose a significant hardship on building owners. However, there are times where the risk will outweigh cost, for example, anywhere the 2021 edition of NFPA 101 has been adopted. In these jurisdictions, an automatic fire sprinkler system is required in all nursing homes, both new and existing, with very few exceptions. The code development process determined the risk to the occupants of these facilities is significant enough that providing automatic fire sprinklers in nursing home facilities is required to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety for both new and existing buildings. As you can see, the answer to the question of whether an existing building must be improved to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety can be found in that jurisdictions adopted code. The adopted code is often a suite of different codes and standards, which may include, building, fire, and life safety codes. It is important that these codes work together to set the minimum level of safety for all buildings in the jurisdiction. For more information on the importance of how code development and adoption improve safety while balancing risk check out the NFPA Fire And Life Safety Ecosystem.
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