A new report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that a growing number of states in the United States have been falling behind on adoption of the current editions of the National Electrical Code (NEC).
In the report, titled “Falling Behind on Electrical Safety: Wide Variations in State Adoptions of the NEC Reveal Neglect of Electrical Safety,” NFPA said an independent survey commissioned by its Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute showed that while the NEC is updated in a national process every three years, states vary widely in when – or if – they adopt these updated codes, which allows their citizens to fall behind in the latest protection from electrical fires.
The study found that 86% of U.S. residents believe that if they purchased a newly constructed home today, it would meet the most up-to-date codes. The truth of the matter is more mixed.
“Over the past 3 cycles of the NEC (2008, 2011, and 2014), nearly one third of the states that adopt a statewide electrical code have skipped one or more updates. Not only do states devote markedly different amounts of time to completing the same task, many also eliminate requirements, reducing the overall level of safety offered by each update.”
The study found a number of factors that contribute to this patchwork of delays and amendments. Among them are political pressure including legislative involvement in building codes, increased scrutiny of regulatory activities generally, a focus on cost without consideration of benefits and less independence for the appointed experts involved in codes adoption.
States with electrical boards and statewide licensing for electricians are quicker to adopt the updates, the report said.
“As policymakers consider how to meet the expectations of the overwhelming number of citizens who expect to be protected by the most current knowledge available, the national NEC development process should be a resource. Policymakers should consider empowering and cultivating electrical experts, prioritizing the adoption of the NEC statewide, and considering costs in a holistic context.”
Read the report (PDF): Falling Behind on Electrical Safety