Jim Pauley and other NFPA representatives are meeting with key stakeholders in Costa Rica this week, as the country looks to update the National Electrical Code® (NEC®).
On Sunday, Pauley met with Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis and members of the fire service. Today, Pauley spoke with members of the engineering, electrical and enforcement communities during the 4th edition of VIED, a life and property protection congress hosted by CIEMI, The College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers that regulates the professional practices of engineers. The NFPA president was part of a distinguished panel with Olga Caledonia, Division Manager for NFPA’s International Operations, Marco Calvo, President of CIEMI, Carolina Vasquez with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Carlos Mora from the Ministry of Economy, Architect Abel Castro from CFIA, Olman Vargas from CFIA, and Hector Chavez, General Director Costa Rica Fire Department.
Pauley applauded local authorities’ commitment to building a safe infrastructure saying, "As safety-conscious practitioners, we can’t approach code awareness slowly or simply stick to what we know. If we do, technology and progress will outpace us."
NFPA has been working with Latin America-based stakeholders for decades. Unlike the US where codes have been taking shape for more than 120 years, Latin America has had to absorb and adopt critical benchmarks at a much faster pace. The first edition of the NEC was published in Spanish in 1927 – thirty years after the NEC debuted in 1897. Costa Rica is looking to adopt the 2014 version of the NEC now, and Mexico will do the same later this year. Going forward, NFPA is looking to close the gap between code cycles so that translated versions of the NEC are simultaneously available in English and Spanish.
Prior to taking the helm at NFPA three years ago, Pauley worked in the electrical engineering industry for thirty years. During his remarks, he spoke about increased connectivity these days and the new challenges associated with emerging technologies. He emphasized the importance of staying up-to-date on codes, standards and training as the world embraces new energy sources and becomes reliant on electrical connectivity. "Like you, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to fix components, managed contractors, met with code enforcers, and responded to new professional requirements and industry changes. I understand where you are coming from. What’s more, I understand where the industry is going," Pauley said.
Some topics being explored this week weren’t even on the code radar ten years ago, including photovoltaics, electric vehicles, and energy storage. These green solutions provide new opportunities and new hazards for the electrical, engineering, enforcement and fire communities. Staying up to date on safety practices associated with solar energy, hydro fuel, wind turbines, and energy storage as Costa Rica works toward being the first country in the world using 100% renewable energies is critical.
"The beauty of the NEC is that it represents the most current collective wisdom of many so that people and property can be safe from fire and electrical hazards," Pauley said. "As our world continues to change, there is one thing that remains the same - residents and the business community rely on us to champion safety."