In a measure to safely protect families in New Hampshire, two-term governor Maggie Hassan released a message on June 9 after vetoing House Bill 533 in relation to installation requirements for arc-fault circuit interrupters.
House Bill 533 called for the scaling back of a need to use arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI), which could threaten public safety by potentially reducing a key piece of fire protection in New Hampshire homes.
An arc-fault is a dangerous electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated or stressed electrical wiring or devices. Arc-faults can happen from a nail or screw that damages a wire behind a wall during installation or maintenance of the electrical system, or when the wiring becomes frayed or cracked due to age.
In her message Governor Hassan states that arc-fault protection can reduce the chance of an electrical fire occurring in homes. By switching the arc-fault protection to another device without first understanding the root cause of electrical system issues as the bill suggests, the risk of fire increases and doesn’t allow for the electrical code to do its job: helping save lives.
NFPA first required the installation of AFCIs in the 1999 edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code.
According to a recent NFPA report, in 2013 nearly 45,000 home fires involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction and caused more than 400 deaths and 1,000 injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 50 percent of electrical fires that occur each year can be prevented by AFCIs.
The Governor cited opposition to the reduction in fire safety from a broad coalition of electrical and fire safety advocates including The State Fire Marshal, the New Hampshire State Building Code Review Board, the New Hampshire Building Officials Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 490, the Electrical Safety Foundation International, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, NFPA, and advocates who have been victims of severe and debilitating burns.
Jeff Sargent, NFPA’s Regional Electrical Code Specialist based in New Hampshire says Governor Hassan’s veto sends an important message. “Governor Hassan’s commitment to public safety, in a state rocked earlier this week by its worst multiple fatality fire since 2005, was clearly evident in her veto of House Bill 533. We applaud her efforts in taking a proactive stand on electrical fire safety and helping protect the residents of New Hampshire.”