NFPA 2014 National Electrical Code now available

Changes include new language on fire resistant cable systems, modular data centers and surge protection for emergency systems
 - 
Monday, September 30, 2013

QUINCY, Mass.—The 2014 National Electrical Code, available in digital format and as a hard copy, contains changes of import to dealers and installers.

“Every three years we do a number of revisions to the NEC,” said Mark Earley, the National Fire Protection Association’s chief electrical engineer. He said changes include the introduction of new technology and revisions large and small.

The NEC sets the standard for safe electrical installation and inspection, according to the NFPA, based here. The NFPA has been the developer and publisher of the NEC for more than a century.

One change in the latest edition may seem small but is significant, Earley said. It’s a change in section 406.3 that provides for a new symbol for outlets controlled by energy management systems.

“Because of modern energy codes a lot of buildings have receptacles [which also are known as outlets] that are connected to energy management systems,” Earley explained. “In other words, these are receptacles that, during off hours, may be shut off by the energy management system to minimize power waste.”

That means security and life safety equipment, which need to work continuously, shouldn’t be plugged into those outlets, Earley said. However, until now, the NEC has not said such receptacles should be specially marked.

The new edition calls for identifying such outlets with a symbol that looks like a circle that is open at the top and has a vertical line extending from the open area into the center of the circle. “Familiarity with what this symbol looks like would call attention to the fact that you may not want to use this receptacle because it may be turned off,” Earley said.

He said the 2014 NEC also includes a new article 728, Fire Resistant Cable Systems.

“These are cables that are in some cases intended to have circuit integrity so that they have to be able to continue to function during a fire,” Earley said.

He added, “We have some new requirements a couple of other places in the code dealing with requirements for the circuit integrity of cables, be they fire alarm cables or communications cables … something that needs to continue to operate during a fire.”

Earley said, “We’ve not had anything particularly explicit on it before. … In the past we’ve had requirements for the flammability of cables but we haven’t necessarily had requirements that the systems supplied by the cables continue to be able to operate during a fire.”

He said there also is a new article 646, which is on wiring for modular data centers.

Modular data centers are like portable computer rooms that are on skids or in a shipping container, Earley said. They are used by large commercial or industrial facilities and may be located outdoors or attached to the side of a building. They’re critical to the operation of a building and need fire and security protection, he said.

The 2014 NEC also contains a new requirement for surge protection of emergency systems, Earley said.

A free webinar highlighting some of the revisions in the code is available at necconnect.org, Earley said.

For more information on the 2014 NEC, visit www.nfpa.org/70.