Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on July 1, 2019.

It Don't Come Easy

A marathon technical session caps the 2019 NFPA Conference & Expo and results in the passage of 11 documents, including the 2020 NEC and a new energy storage standard


It took more than 16 hours and included a truckload of spirited debate, but they got it done.

Hundreds of NFPA members gathered in San Antonio, Texas, on June 20 for the annual NFPA Technical Meeting to consider proposed amendments to 11 NFPA codes and standards under revision. The action began at 8 a.m. and stretched well past midnight, but in the end all 11 documents passed, including the 2020 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, and the new NFPA 855, Standard on the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems.

Five documents, including NFPA 801, Standard for Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials, passed with no changes. Other documents, including the NEC and NFPA 855, featured protracted discussions.

Those discussions resulted in 10 changes to the 2020 edition of the NEC, out of a total of 52 motions made. Discussions ranged from proposed language regarding the use of electric vehicles as a power source in homes and other buildings, to a series of motions, all of which failed, challenging the enactment of language that would limit and further define the use of reconditioned electrical equipment. There were also a number of motions to delete or reverse changes to ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection in and around dwellings, all of which were voted down. The membership did, however, accept a motion to complete the expansion of arc fault circuit-interrupter protection to all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits within a dwelling unit.

The discussions around NFPA 855 were also lively, with 12 motions made and one accepted. The biggest debate centered on whether the document should apply to utility-owned infrastructure, a sticking point for some in the industry because utilities have traditionally followed their own codes and standards pertaining to their equipment. Ultimately, NFPA members did narrowly vote to approve the motion, backed by utility representatives, to limit the scope of 855 to non-utility facilities only. The approved motion will now go to a committee ballot to decide if the change will be made.

View the full results of the 2019 NFPA tech session, as well as the specific details on wording of all motions.

JESSE ROMAN is associate editor for NFPA Journal.