AUTHOR: Corey Hannahs

Charging Up National Electrical Safety Month Around E-Mobility

Each May provides an opportunity to highlight how we can safely work with electricity. National Electrical Safety Month is an annual campaign spearheaded by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which aims to educate people on how to reduce the number of electrical fires, fatalities, injuries, and associated property loss. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Electrification: E-Mobility.” While there is no shortage of stories about electric vehicle (EV) and e-bike incidents in the news, the reality is that it is also a topic many Americans do not know a lot about. And with a lack of knowledge often comes a lack of safety. Many of the reported incidents likely could have been prevented had individuals been more aware of unsafe practices when using these products. This year’s National Electrical Safety Month campaign addressing e-mobility safety provides a great opportunity to spread more safety awareness in this area, and NFPA® has many resources to help accomplish this goal.   E-bikes: The news story vs the full picture   Electromobility, also known as e-mobility, uses specific technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, to provide electric propulsion of electric vehicles, e-bikes, and various other means of mobile transportation. Incidents involving e-bikes are regularly in the news and a high concentration of those happen to be in New York City, an area with a dense population and significant use of e-bikes for delivery jobs and general travel around the city. What often gets relayed as part of the newscast is a description of the incident itself and a connection to the lithium-ion batteries that propel these e-bikes. What isn’t always communicated is the human factor that can lead to many of these incidents and, more importantly, ways in which individuals can begin to safely charge and utilize e-bikes to prevent further incidents.   As of early April, New York City had reported 59 total e-bike–related fires this year, 5 of which had been fatal. To add perspective, there were 6 total fatalities due to e-bike–related fires in all of 2022. One recent incident involved two youths that perished because an e-bike was being charged near the building entrance, and when a fire involving the device erupted, the exit was blocked.   Since the onset of these tragic e-bike events, NFPA has been proactive in trying to educate e-bike users to ensure that they know the best ways to utilize these products in a manner that maintains their personal safety, as well as the safety of others. In fact, NFPA put together a webpage with safety information around e-bikes and e-scooters to help spread awareness. Watch a related video about e-bike and e-scooter fire safety from NFPA Journal®.   Here, individuals can find great resources such as answers to frequently asked questions, videos, and a downloadable e-bike safety tip sheet that is available in both English and Spanish. NFPA staff are also working to be safety advocates by spreading messaging around the lithium-ion batteries that power most e-bikes. At a recent NFPA staff event, a panel of several staff members who specialize in fire protection, electrical safety, and research discussed recent incidents and the safe use of lithium-ion batteries. Many in the audience expressed that they learned something valuable about how to be safer when charging their personal lithium-ion powered devices. NFPA technical services engineer Brian O’Connor also provided a recent interview to CBS News New York to help spread the word to the public on how e-bike lithium-ion batteries work and the safety precautions that users should take.     EVs: Building a safe charging infrastructure   Electric vehicles (EVs) are another means of e-mobility transportation that are very much in the public spotlight. There is a clear shift taking place among major automotive manufacturers worldwide from production of vehicles with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. There are also significant financial investments being made by the government to build an electrical charging infrastructure that can support the increase in the number of EVs that are projected to reach the pavement in the near future.   A primary step in bettering the EV charging infrastructure happens when it is initially built. But another key component that shouldn’t be overlooked is the continued maintenance of the charging infrastructure.  Both the initial installation and continued maintenance are areas where NFPA is able to help ensure safety. Article 625 in the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) provides requirements that will help to ensure a safe electrical vehicle charging installation. Some of the requirements revolve around a personal protection system, properly sizing branch circuits that power the EV charger, and utilizing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for receptacles that power EV chargers.     RELATED: NFPA also has resources to help firefighters train for responding to incidents involving electric vehicles. Learn more at   From a maintenance standpoint, Chapter 33 of NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, addresses electric vehicle charging systems. Within this chapter, users can find information on the necessary frequency and documentation of maintenance and the procedures that should be taken when maintenance is performed. With NFPA 70B changing from a recommended practice to a standard in January of 2023, governments and municipalities now have the ability to enforce the maintenance requirements of NFPA 70B regarding the electrical charging infrastructure being installed within their particular areas. With the high level of use that EV chargers will see on a daily basis, continued maintenance will be paramount to ensuring that EV chargers remain safe for consumers to use.   Embracing the electric future   Since the beginning of human history, there has been a constant development of new technologies that drive our means of travel—for example, shoes (7th millennium BC), the domestication of the horse and invention of the wheel (3500 BC), the bicycle (1816), and the Ford Model T automobile (1908). These were all significant developments in means of travel that we still use today.   Although electric vehicles are at the forefront of developing travel technologies today, using electricity for powering means of transportation actually dates back to the early 19th century, when using electricity to power locomotives and boats was being explored. Continued technological advancements over time, such as the development of lithium-ion batteries, has provided an opportunity to explore new transportation options within the e-mobility realm. While the advancements in the technologies used for transportation have a wide variance over time, one commonality is that, in all applications of those technologies, there was a learning curve that had to be overcome to utilize the new technology safely.   “ We are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely. ... It is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others.     It is hard to imagine that it took very long after the wheel was invented to determine it was a bad idea to leave your foot under it while it was rolling. This may sound like a silly example because it seems just common sense to us nowadays, but someone had to learn the danger from trial and error and then share their findings with others so that they didn’t make the same mistake. In that same regard, we are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely.   The reality is we often fear most that which we do not understand. As we work through determining how best to incorporate these e-mobility products into our everyday lives, it is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others. National Electrical Safety Month is a great opportunity for all of us to start doing just that.          For quick tips on how to use e-mobility devices more safely, please consider downloading the NFPA E-bike and E-scooter Safety tip sheet in English or Spanish, as well as our Lithium-Ion Battery Safety sheet.  

NFPA 70B Is a Critical Tool for Reliability and Safety

January 2023 was a significant month in the evolution of NFPA 70B as it transitioned from the Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance to the Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Issued by the NFPA® Standards Council on December 27, 2022, the 2023 edition of NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, became effective on January 16, 2023, when it was approved as an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).   It has been 50 years since the first version of NFPA 70B was issued in 1973 as a recommended practice, which provided recommendations on what should be done. Now, the move to a standard provides more enforceability for what must be done when it comes to electrical equipment maintenance. That is a win-win for both the reliability of electrical equipment and the overall safety of the electrical systems and those individuals tasked with working on them.     Why is electrical equipment maintenance important?   Unexpected shutdowns can be detrimental to companies, yet they happen every day due to equipment failure. Just as vehicles require regular upkeep to remain reliable as usage and aging persist, maintenance is also vital for electrical systems to stay dependable when they are needed.   Even more critical than the safety of the electrical system itself is the safety of those responsible for working on those systems. Equipment can be replaced; lives cannot. In part, the defined purpose of NFPA 70B is “to provide for the practical safeguarding of persons, property, and processes from the risks associated with failure, breakdown, or malfunction” of electrical equipment. An additional part of the scope also serves to provide “a means to establish a condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems for safety and reliability.”   A key term within the defined purpose of NFPA 70B is condition of maintenance. If you work regularly with electrical codes and standards, that term may be familiar to you. According to a quick search using NFPA LiNK®, the term condition of maintenance is used 59 times in the 2023 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), and six times in the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®.   While the term is mentioned fewer times in NFPA 70E, establishing a condition of maintenance is paramount in being able to accomplish the requirements outlined within the pages of the document to help keep workers safe. As an example, NFPA 70E, Section 110.5(A), requires employers to implement and document an electrical safety program (ESP) that directs activity appropriate to the risk associated with electrical hazards. Additionally, the ESP is required to include elements that consider the condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems.   Without question, electrical equipment that has not been maintained properly or is not functioning properly poses a significant additional risk to those who are working on that equipment and its associated systems. NFPA 70E states that we must address and consider conditions of maintenance for applications—for example, estimating the likelihood of severity in both shock risk and arc flash risk assessments.   NFPA 70B is the standard that can now be both utilized and enforced, to ensure that the proper conditions of maintenance have been established.     Along with NFPA 70B and NFPA 70E, it is also important to keep in mind that the NEC is an important part of this conversation. A code-compliant installation that has been designed, installed, and inspected in accordance with NEC requirements is foundational in being able to incorporate the other standards. Once installation has taken place, NFPA 70B can assist in the maintenance aspect, while NFPA 70E can provide the work practices necessary to keep employees safe, while also meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. The NEC, NFPA 70B, and NFPA 70E all become critical components, one just as important as the others, in order to achieve the electrical cycle of safety.   While it may take some time for jurisdictions to determine how to best utilize and enforce NFPA 70B, the NFPA Standards Council’s recent decision to make the document a standard opens the door to that possibility. Because proper maintenance is critical to achieving reliability and safety of electrical equipment and systems—and, more importantly, the safety of workers that interact with them—it is well worth the effort to enforce NFPA 70B as a standard, making it another tool to assist in achieving overall electrical safety in the world.   Find out more information and gain free access to the standard by visiting the NFPA 70B  document information page.

As Egg Prices Continue to Soar, Ensure DIY Chicken Coop Projects Are Done Safely

If chickens don’t fly, then how can egg prices continue to soar? Poor attempts at dad jokes aside, record-high egg prices are something we are all facing at the moment and, frankly, don’t find all that funny. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of eggs more than doubled between January 2022 and December 2022, from $1.93 per dozen to $4.25 per dozen. Since January 2021, when egg prices were on average $1.47 per dozen, the price has nearly tripled. While many individuals had previously chosen to raise chickens at their residence for access to fresh eggs, elevated egg prices now have many contemplating doing the same to save money.   RELATED STORY  After a large chicken farm fire in Connecticut, some people are questioning whether something suspicious is going on. The truth is there’s nothing unusual about fires at livestock storage and production facilities. Read more.   One of the most critical components in raising chickens is having a structure to provide nesting areas for egg laying and safe shelter from predators such hawks, coyotes, and foxes. Creating structures, such as chicken coops, can often become do-it-yourself (DIY) projects for homeowners. Communication between the local jurisdiction and homeowners about the safe building, and upkeep, of residential DIY chicken coops is key. Below you will find some information on some potential dangers and guidelines to help mitigate the associated risk, as well as a simple tip sheet to that can be shared with others in your community.   The danger of DIY   While it is always recommended that people reach out to the local building department to determine whether or not a chicken coop would need any permits or inspections, the reality is that in many cases these structures are not inspected. In some areas, jurisdictions have excluded permitting and inspections for structures used in private agricultural applications like chicken coops. In other cases, the homeowner may simply not be aware of the potential risks they are exposing themselves to by doing the work themselves and not having adequate inspections performed.   Bad information can also increase risk. An internet search for “raising chickens” led me to a popular DIY site that many homeowners are familiar with. In reviewing the step-by-step process that was provided for raising chickens, it did not take very long before I became astounded at some of the recommendations.   As part of the step for setting up a brooder, which is a heated nesting place for chicks, it was recommended to get a cardboard or plastic box, place it in your house, put pine shavings in the bottom of the box, and place a heat lamp on the side of the box. So, a homeowner is being advised to take a flammable box, add additional flammable material (pine shavings), attach a heat source to the flammable box, and place that box within their home. The immense risk associated with this advice may be caught easily by a cautious homeowner, but there are likely many individuals who would just follow the step-by-step instructions, putting themselves in unnecessary danger.   " A homeowner is being advised to take a flammable box, add additional flammable material, attach a heat source to the flammable box, and place that box within their home.     Other risks and what the codes say   From a codes and standards perspective, it is difficult to find requirements that are specific to residential chicken coops. Paragraph of the 2022 edition of NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code, defines facilities where agricultural animals are housed in private, residential-type animal housing as Category 7 Class B. Yet when we look at, it states that Category 7 Class B facilities are exempt from the requirements of NFPA 150. Considering this information, we cannot look to NFPA 150 for requirements when building a residential chicken coop.   When we begin to analyze the genuine danger that can be present within chicken coops, two of the most prevalent arise when dealing with sources of electricity and heat. Let’s focus on electricity for the moment. To start, electrical work should always be performed by a qualified electrician who is versed in the requirements of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®).   Electrical receptacle needs for the chicken coops should be well thought out to avoid the need to use extension cords. Because of the outdoor location and moisture associated with that environment, which can even become an issue inside of the chicken coop, all receptacles should be provided with ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. Poultry dust buildup is a concern for the electrical system as well. To help avoid contact with ignition sources such as the internal components of receptacles and switches, dust-resistant boxes and covers should be utilized as well as implementing light fixtures with fully enclosed lamps. Any dust buildup on electrical components should be cleaned regularly. All electrical equipment that is used in chicken coops, such as heat lamps and electrically heated poultry waterers, should be listed by a qualified testing laboratory. For safety reasons, listed electrical equipment should only be used based on its listing instructions, and non-listed and makeshift equipment should be avoided. Heated waterers, heat lamps, and space heaters might be utilized in chicken coops to keep water from freezing during the winter months, as well as within brooders to keep chicks warm. Because chicks cannot regulate their body temperature for the first few weeks of life, supplemental heat is necessary. Temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit are needed during their first week of life, then the temperature gradually descends to about 65 degrees over the next several weeks until chicks can regulate their own body temperature. Hay, bedding, and other combustible materials close to heat sources can become a significant fire hazard within chicken coops and brooders.   NFPA® offers a helpful “Backyard Chicken Coop Safety” tip sheet for the general public that touches on many of these topics and more. Please feel free to share with your community through social media and outreach events.   Chicken coop fires are very real, as evidenced by a recent fire at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut, which killed over 100,000 chickens. While a backyard residential chicken coop may not be anywhere near the scale of this facility, the same potential for electrical and fire hazards still exists. Ensuring that all involved are aware of those risks, and know how to mitigate them, is a critical component to maintaining the safety of people, the flock, the chicken coop, and any surrounding buildings on the property. Don’t put any, let alone all, of the eggs in an unsafe basket.

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.

Growth in Codes and Standards is Essential to Safety within Cannabis Oil Extraction Facilities

Both the cannabis plant and the industry itself have been growing quite a bit over the past decade. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Many other states followed suit. As of November 2022, a total of 21 states, and the District of Columbia, had approved the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Legalization provided many people with an opportunity to use cannabis to treat conditions such as pain, migraines, depression, and anxiety, among other things, while remaining law-abiding citizens. With the increase in demand came a need for an increase in supply. Facilities of all shapes and sizes began popping up in states where cannabis was legalized to be manufactured. While cannabis is commonly smoked by many users, other forms of cannabis products include gummies, oils, supplements, and extracts. These products are manufactured by extracting cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the plant itself. What are the safety concerns? The extraction of cannabis oil can pose many safety issues, including the risk of fire and explosion. In many cases, the extraction process itself creates a hazardous location due to the use of flammable solvents such as butane, pentane, hexane, propane, and ethanol, which can all be released during the processing and extraction of plant oils. Proper installation, maintenance, and use of the extraction equipment employed as part of the processing of oils from cannabis will go a long way in achieving overall safety within these types of facilities.   RELATED  • Listen to an NFPA podcast about regulating the cannabis industry • Read, “The New Face of Pot,” published in the July/August 2018 NFPA Journal     What does the NEC say?   The 2023 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), made significant strides toward helping achieve electrical safety in facilities that perform cannabis oil extraction by adding Article 512, Cannabis Oil Equipment and Cannabis Oil Systems Using Flammable Materials.   This new article provides electrical requirements for cannabis oil preparatory equipment, extraction equipment, booths, post-processing equipment, and systems using flammable materials (flammable gas, flammable liquid–produced vapor, combustible liquid–produced vapor) in commercial and industrial facilities. A public input that was submitted for the 2023 NEC as part of the NFPA standards development process, PI-2285, supported creating a new article that would “elevate the level of safety” within the cannabis industry. The substantiation of PI-2285 provided examples of real-life explosion incidents within cannabis facilities, some of which required more than 200 firefighters to battle the blaze and left large numbers of firefighters injured. In an industry that has processes and procedures unfamiliar to many authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and that continues to see tremendous growth, it is crucial to provide safety requirements around installations that can be verified at the time of inspection.   While it is likely that we will see new Article 512 expand within future NEC cycles to provide more guidance, the initial content contained within the 2023 NEC begins to provide some of the necessary requirements for designers, installers, and AHJs to achieve electrical safety around cannabis equipment and systems.   Article 512 is broken down into three parts: Part I: General; Part II: Wiring; and Part III: Equipment. Section 512.3 is a key component for installations as it provides the requirements for how cannabis oil equipment and systems that can release flammable materials during operation must be classified. The section is broken down into Part A, which covers installations outside of booths, and Part B, which covers installations within booths. Each of these areas are then further broken down into installations where flammable gases and vapors are released and installations where flammable gases and vapors are not released.   Having the area classified properly is an important initial step as we move into Parts II and III of Article 512 to determine how wiring and equipment installations must be performed in and around the hazardous locations. Part III, in particular, includes requirements for the equipment and systems to be listed and marked. It also provides guidance on when gas detection is required. While the new Article 512 within the 2023 NEC is a great starting point for beginning to provide electrical safety requirements within cannabis facilities, as can be expected, safety needs don’t stop there. A new, dedicated cannabis standard Currently, NFPA is in the development stages of NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities. The overall goal of NFPA 420 is to address the protection of facilities where cannabis is being grown or processed from fire and related hazards. Initial meeting minutes found at the NFPA 420 document information page reflect committee task groups working to develop preliminary chapters that provide information pertaining to fundamentals, indoor growing, drying/processing, and extraction. Provided that the draft development progresses at the technical committee level, and approval to do so is provided by the NFPA Standards Council, the goal is to have an initial NFPA 420 document available for public input sometime in 2024. The growth of the cannabis industry does not show any signs of slowing down. A recent article in Forbes stated that market research firm BDSA is forecasting cannabis sales in the United States to grow from $25 billion in 2021 to $40 billion in 2026. More facilities, more processing, and more workers lead to an increased need for safety within the cannabis industry. Continued development of codes and standards that provide knowledge for those designing, performing, and inspecting these installations is paramount to achieving a high level of safety within cannabis growing and processing facilities.
Building a snowman

Electrical and Fire Safety Considerations At Home During the Cold Winter Months

Looking outside your window at the dropping thermometer or stepping outside to be met by the brisk air are both reminders that it is time to dig the snow shovels and snowblowers out of the back of the garage. Being an electrician, when I think about home responsibility and safety during the wintertime, my natural tendency is to look at it from an electrical perspective. But as  a homeowner, I also need to be considerate of best practices around fire safety. Changes to what we do outside and inside of our homes through the winter months present both electrical and fire safety risks that can be properly managed by both awareness and following the proper code requirements, in all codes that apply. As we transition into these winter months, there are requirements in both the NFPA 1 Fire Code and NFPA 70® National Electrical Code® (NEC®) that must be followed to ensure the safety of your home. Winter just wouldn’t be winter without holiday lighting. Ensuring that the holiday lighting is listed and, where installed outdoors is rated for the application, is a great start. But often, the outdoor holiday lighting masterpieces installed in the coming months are also inclusive of extension cords and relocatable power taps (more commonly known as “power strips”) as well. As was the case with holiday lights, extension cords and relocatable power taps should also be listed and rated for the environment in which they are installed. Improper use of any or all of these components within holiday lighting not only has the ability to pose an electrical safety risk to the home, but a fire safety risk as well. NFPA 1 has code requirements, which are also relevant when it comes to electrical installations, that apply to both extension cords and relocatable power taps. Some of those NFPA 1 requirements being: Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter and shall, except for approved multiplug extension cords, serve only one portable appliance. [1:] Extension cords shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration, or damage. [1:] Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures; extend through walls, ceilings, or floors, or under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage [1:] Relocatable power taps shall be listed to UL 1363, Relocatable Power Taps, or UL 1363A, Outline of Investigation for Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps, where applicable. [1:] The relocatable power taps shall be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle. [1:] Relocatable power tap cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, or floors; under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage. [1:] When looking at the way a typical holiday lighting installation may be performed by those that may not be aware of these safety requirements, there are several things that stand out. Extension cords are not permitted to be plugged into other extension cords, rather they should only be plugged into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter. Because extension cords must be in good condition and free from damage, that rules out the extension cord that got caught up in the hedge trimmers during the summer and now has the damaged area wrapped in electrical tape. Relocatable power taps cannot be “daisy chained” by plugging into other relocatable power taps; they can only be plugged directly into a permanently installed receptacle. Both extension cords and relocatable power taps are not permitted to be installed where subject to environmental or physical damage. Furthermore, extension cords are not permitted to be affixed to structures, such as homes.   One area where both NFPA 1 and the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) align in their requirements is around the timeframe that holiday lighting can be installed. NEC section 590.3(B), which is directly referenced in NFPA 1 section, states that holiday lighting cannot be installed for more than 90 days. So, for individuals who get really excited about the holidays and install their holiday lights in early October, that means they will need to be taken down close to the first of the year to meet the 90-day requirement. Also from an NEC perspective, it is critical to ensure that all of your exterior holiday lighting is plugged into a GFCI receptacle that has been tested to be functional and working properly.   When the temperature in the house falls, the heat comes on. While likely the most common, gas-forced air furnaces are not the only way in which a home is heated. Boilers, heat pumps, and electricity are also utilized to heat homes. From an electrical perspective, electric furnaces, baseboard heat, plug-in space heaters, and electric fireplaces may also be utilized. With electrical equipment that is utilized to produce heat, it is important to understand that it puts a tremendous load on the electrical system. Circuits that operated normally throughout other parts of the year can now become overloaded when heating items, like portable space heaters, are plugged in during the winter months. When it comes to portable space heaters, it is also important to note that while it is heating your space, you need to maintain space between the heater and any combustible materials. In a home heating fires report published by NFPA in January 2021, fixed and portable space heaters were responsible for 81 percent of civilian deaths. That number is overwhelming considering the next closest equipment responsible for civilian deaths were fireplaces and chimneys at nine percent.   Because of the changes in the way homes are used when the cold weather sets in, both electrical and fire safety must be evaluated based on the change in use.  As we move into these chilly months, it’s important to stay keenly aware of the changing environment and implement the safety measures that are necessary to keep your home safe. Winter is coming… Please visit the NFPA public education page for more information on how to keep your home safe this winter and throughout the rest of the year.
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