The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Division (DSPS) is proposing to exclude Arc Fault and Ground Fault Circuit interruption (AFCI/GFCI) expansion from the Wisconsin Electrical Code despite objection from the State’s Electrical Advisory Council. DSPS tried to eliminate AFCI and GFCI in 2012 and the reaction from the electrical industry and fire services was so strong that Governor Scott Walker “pulled the plug” on DSPS’s actions.
Like many states, Wisconsin has adopted the NEC for the state’s electrical code. DSPS’ proposed amendments for AFCI and GFCI requirements would be less than the minimum requirements prescribed by the current edition of the National Electrical Code. Since the introduction of GFCI requirements in NFPA’s National Electrical Code in 1971, the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows a decreasing trend in the number of electrocutions in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission provides valuable insight to the importance of GFCI in their Electrocution Reduction Program. Recognizing the value of GFCI protection through timely adoption of the NEC will further the safety of Wisconsin citizens and will demonstrate that DSPS is a leader in public safety.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 47,820 reported U.S. home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.48 billion in direct property damage.
To proceed with the proposed rules changes is a dangerous disservice to the citizens of the state of Wisconsin who have an expectation that they can safely interface with the electrical systems within homes, businesses, institutions and recreational facilities.
The DSPS has an opportunity to stand-up for the safety of all Wisconsin residents by not allowing these rule changes to proceed and maintain the exemplary record that the state of Wisconsin has achieved as being a leader in electrical safety. It is a decision that we can all live with. If you are interesting in attending the public hearings on these proposed changes, and weighing in with your thoughts, they begin tomorrow, January 31st.