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10 Posts authored by: barrychase Employee



The past few months have produced a number of powerful and damaging natural disasters across the US. From earthquakes and wildfires in the west to tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes across our northern and southern states, no one part of the country has been immune to the mighty force of nature.


In the midst of this trying time, and with the worst of the hurricane season still to come (hurricane season runs from June to November), building owners and managers of industrial and commercial facilities are facing (and will continue to face) the daunting process of disaster recovery. More specifically, when electrical systems are damaged in a natural (and yes, even man-made ones, too!) disaster, electricians need to make a critical decision about whether the electrical equipment that was damaged can be salvaged or not.


So where to start? Let NFPA lend a hand. We’ve created a new checklist for electricians to help highlight and simplify key aspects of this decision-making process. The checklist builds off of recommendations in Chapter 32 of NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance* (2019 edition).


The checklist includes such things as:

  • A list of disaster scenarios, which can inflict damage of varying degrees to facilities
  • Steps for assessing equipment
  • A Priority Assessment Table
  • Steps to help identify factors for replacement or repair

… and more.


Still, even with the help of the checklist, the choice between repair and replace will not always be an easy one. Following these simple suggestions can be the difference, however, between an impossible task and an informed decision.


Before your community experiences a disaster, download this free “Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist” and review the contents. Having this information at your fingertips will be extremely valuable should your community call on you for your electrical experience and assistance in the aftermath of a storm or other weather-related event.  


Additional disaster-related resources can be found on NFPA's disaster webpage, including tip sheets, related code information, articles, and more.



*The complete current edition of NFPA 70B and related resources are available for free access or to purchase at

The installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is an increasingly attractive way to reduce the cost and environmental impact of producing and using electrical energy. However, these systems can also have an impact on safety for building occupants, electrical workers, and emergency responders. As more homes and businesses are fitted with PV systems, it is important to understand that multiple codes and standards across different disciplines must be applied to ensure a safe installation for all. Whether you are a system installer, property owner, or electrical inspector, finding all of the applicable requirements can be a bit like looking for buried treasure. In this blog post, I’ll save you some digging and give you a map!


Reference #1 - NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), 2020 edition establishes requirements for the safe use of electricity and electrical equipment by reducing or eliminating hazards, such as electric shock and fire. The following articles address PV systems as noted and either apply or modify the requirements found in the first four chapters of the Code:

  • Article 690 addresses PV systems other than the PV generating plant (solar farms) covered in Article 691.
  • Article 691 addresses large-scale systems with an inverter generating capacity of 5000 kW and greater.
  • Article 705 addresses installation of one or more electric power production sources operating in parallel with a primary source(s) of electricity.

Most jurisdictions adopt the NEC into law, as there are few alternative codes for electrical installation.


Reference #2 - NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2018 edition prescribes minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of safety and protection from fire, explosion, and dangerous conditions. Part of this code’s objective is to ensure that firefighters can respond effectively and safely to a fire. PV systems are a concern for firefighters because, during a fire, roof-mounted PV systems can impede access to the roof or become a potential shock hazard. Where PV systems are installed on the ground, vegetation and near-by structures could provide a means of spreading fire, and the PV panels could become a shock hazard for anyone with access to the array(s). The following sections address these concerns:

  • Section 11.12.2 addresses roof-mounted systems and establishes requirements for marking and roof access.
  • Section 11.12.3 addresses ground-mounted systems and establishes requirements for clear space, vegetation management, and security.

Where the International Fire Code® (IFC®) is adopted instead of NFPA 1, similar requirements can be found in Section 1204 of the 2018 edition.


Reference #3 - NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, 2018 edition provides minimum regulations for the safety of buildings and structures. The following section ensures that roof-mounted PV systems are securely supported by the building and mounting equipment:

  • Section 38.12 addresses roof-mounted systems and establishes requirements for mounting and support, wind design, and seismic design.

Where the International Building Code® (IBC®) is adopted, similar requirements can be found in Section 3111 of the 2018 edition.

Where the International Residential Code® (IRC®) is adopted, similar requirements for one- and two-family dwellings can be found in Section 324 of the 2018 edition.


Reference #4 - NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, 2019 edition outlines inspection and maintenance programs for industrial-type electrical systems and equipment. In order to reduce hazards due to failure or malfunction of the PV equipment, the recommendations of the following chapter should be followed:

  • Chapter 33 addresses maintenance of PV systems.

Similar recommendations can be found in CSA Z463-18, Guideline on maintenance of electrical systems.


Additional References - PV systems are sometimes supplemented with a means to store the surplus energy produced during the day so that it can be used at night. Where a battery or energy storage system is installed, the following references apply to that portion of the system:

  • NEC®, 2020 edition:
    • Article 480 addresses battery storage systems
    • Article 706 addresses energy storage systems >1kWh
  • Chapter 52 of NFPA 1, 2018 edition or Section 1206 of the 2018 IFC®
  • Where the IRC® is adopted for one- and two-family dwellings, Section 327 of the IRC®

In addition to these references, a new standard, NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, is currently being developed to address the hazards associated with energy storage systems.


Note that the references I’ve mentioned in the paragraphs above are applicable to privately-owned systems and might not apply to systems that are under utility control. Before proceeding with any design or installation, it is prudent to verify which editions of these codes have been adopted in your jurisdiction and to check whether any local amendments have been incorporated as well. The NFPA CodeFinder tool can help you get started.


On a final note, the documents I’ve identified can contain additional references that are either mandatory or simply helpful. I have chosen not to include those secondary references here. Use the comments section below to tell us about any references you think are particularly important or helpful for designing, installing, or maintaining PV systems.


We look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading!



NOTE: NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, and NEC are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association.

International Fire Code, IFC, International Building Code, IBC, International Residential Code, and IRC are registered trademarks of International Code Council, Inc.


In my recent NFPA® Live I discussed the selection and location of audible fire alarm appliances to help meet the audibility requirements of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, 2019 edition. Participants learned the how to determine the minimum sound pressure level for the fire alarm system in a given space and how to account for the effects of hearing distance, wall configuration, and reverberation in the selection and location of audible notification appliances.

I received this follow-up question from a member. I hope you find some value in it.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this linkIf you're not currently a member, join today!

In a recent webinar, industry expert and fire protection engineer, Merton Bunker, discussed significant ways NFPA 72 has changed and why. The information provides not only a great way for you to learn about the changes, but how they could also affect your job.Throughout the webinar, Bunker specifically talks about key changes aimed at designers, installers and AHJs, such as:


  • How to locate and apply the new carbon monoxide detector and alarm requirements
  • How to locate and apply the new testing requirements for Energy Storage Systems (ESS)
  • How to locate new requirements for HVLS fans
  • How to identify new requirements for air-sampling smoke detectors


The recording also covers the code's new mounting height requirements for fire alarm control units, new requirements for Class N circuit protection, and new document storage requirements, and more.


If you’re a registered Xchange user, you have immediate access to the full recording. If you haven’t subscribed to Xchange, you can register today for free. Xchange is a great way to connect with professionals worldwide, explore content, and ask questions. Don’t miss out on all that Xchange has to offer, and subscribe today!

In the midst of a very active and powerful hurricane season, many building owners and managers of industrial and commercial facilities are facing the daunting process of disaster recovery. In determining the best means of restoring electrical systems and equipment to full operation, a decision must be made whether to repair or replace each damaged piece of equipment. Chapter 32, Electrical Disaster Recovery, of NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, 2016 edition, is now available as a free, standalone, downloadable resource from NFPA and includes the following guidance on making these important assessmentsNFPA 70B, 70B

  • Seek the services of qualified equipment assessment personnel, whether manufacturer representatives or subject matter experts.
  • Establish priorities for each system and/or piece of equipment. This will become important as you consider lead times and resource allocation for different recovery options.
  • Determine the availability of parts, direct replacement equipment, and/or dissimilar replacement equipment. It could be necessary to modify the existing system in order to accommodate a different model or a newer technology as a replacement.
  • Understand the effect of each recovery option on the future performance of the equipment and the system, as well as the ability of the original manufacturer to support the equipment. Equipment performance could be compromised as a result of repairs.
  • Consider the lead time and financial impact of each recovery option. Costs associated with an extended downtime could exceed the additional material and labor costs associated with a more rapid recovery solution.
  • Determine whether the repair contractor is qualified to do the work and whether the repairs can be made on site.
  • Consider the age of the damaged equipment and any planned obsolescence.
  • Verify that the authority having jurisdiction will allow repair or replacement of the affected equipment.
  • Review the list of other industry standards and guidelines in 32.2.8 for pertinent information.


Even with these factors in mind, the choice between repair and replace will not always be a simple one. However, following these simple suggestions can be the difference between an impossible task and an informed decision.


Remember to always document the details of the recovery process in a project summary report. See 32.2.16.


The complete current edition of NFPA 70B and related resources are available for free access or to purchase at


Additional disaster-related resources can be found on NFPA's disaster webpage, including tip sheets, related code information, articles, and more.

The 2016 edition of NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam is now available. Here are 8 important changes that are worth noting.

#1) Manufacturers are now required to publish acceptable ranges of density (or specific gravity), pH, refractive index, and viscosity for the foam concentrates that they produce. These values are intended to be used by laboratories to establish pass/fail criteria for annual quality testing. Because this information has not been consistently available in the past, laboratories have been required to make assumptions about the appropriate tolerances. To further support the measurement of foam quality, new definitions for “film formation” and “spreading coefficient” were also added.

#2) The suction inlet in an atmospheric concentrate storage tank must be located a minimum of 25.4 mm (1 in.) above the bottom of the tank. This creates a settling basin to reduce the risk of sediment entering the system. The volume of foam concentrate located below the inlet is not considered to be usable and cannot be counted as part of the minimum foam supply.

#3) The system piping section has been reorganized to clearly indicate separate requirements for foam concentrate and foam solution. The options for foam solution piping materials have been expanded to permit non-galvanized pipe, while ensuring compatibility of the pipe material with the foam solution.

#4) The allowance to provide seal-only protection for outdoor covered (internal) floating roof tanks has been extended to certain composite floating roofs that have been deemed to provide similar performance to metallic roofs. The specific roof features are considered adequate to resist burn through and/or submergence of the roof, in the event of a fire.

#5) Chapter 8 has been expanded to identify key components of system plans, including new details for hydraulic calculations and water supply graph sheets. The list of information to be included, as appropriate, has increased from 13 items to 33.

#6) Valves and hose connections must be installed to facilitate testing of proportioning equipment. Although certain acceptance and maintenance tests are required by Chapters 11 and 12, the standard did not previously include an installation requirement to provide a means of conducting these tests.

#7) The requirements for acceptance testing now include a water supply test and an operational test of control valves. A sample Material and Test Certificate was also added to Annex A to provide a means of documenting the acceptance test results.

#8) Descriptions of new foam proportioning test methods that do not require the discharge of foam concentrate were added to Annex D. Chapter 12 already supported alternative test methods, but specific test descriptions or procedures were not provided.

For a complete revision history of NFPA 11 or to read the 2016 edition for free, please visit the NFPA 11 Document Information Page at

The First Draft of NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, 2017 edition, is open for public comment until November 16, 2015. Comments can be submitted through the NFPA website (

For this draft, the technical committee passed 64 revisions, including updated references and clarifications of existing requirements. The following revisions incorporate technical changes to the standard:


Section 4.2, FIRST REVISION NO. 8

The standard will recognize the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) for extinguishers sold and installed outside the United States. Previous editions referenced the Workplace Hazardous Materials Identification System (WHMIS) Reference Manual.

Committee’s Substantiation: Canada is replacing WHMIS with the UN's Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).


Section 4.4, FIRST REVISION NO. 71

All extinguishers manufactured prior to 1955 will be considered obsolete and be removed from service. Prior editions limited this to stored pressure extinguishers only.

Committee’s Substantiation: Extinguishers manufactured prior to 1955 are obsolete, were tested to an outdated standard, rated with an outdated rating system, are 60 years old or older, and do not have current manuals or OEM parts available. These extinguishers should be removed from service.


Section 4.4.1, FIRST REVISION NO. 19

All dry chemical stored-pressure extinguishers with an indicated manufacturing date of 1984 or prior will be removed from service immediately. The previous edition allowed them to be removed at the next six-year maintenance or hydrostatic test.

Committee’s Substantiation: All hydrotest dates have passed for stored pressure extinguishers manufactured prior to October, 1984, thus there is no reason to maintain this language.


Section 5.5.7, FIRST REVISION NO. 22

Guidance on selection of portable extinguishers for areas containing oxidizers has been expanded.

Committee’s Substantiation: The proposed change brings NFPA 10 in line with the 2013 edition of NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code. There are oxidizers that are incompatible with the application of water. Because the specific type of oxidizer, state of the material, and the quantity present can affect various extinguishment recommendations, referencing the material’s SDS is advisable.





The requirements for visibility of extinguishers and the means of indicating the location of a hidden extinguisher have been clarified and revised.

Committee’s Substantiation: As a minimum, signs or other means need to be provided to indicate the extinguisher location. Fire extinguisher signs are the preferred method for identifying extinguisher locations.



The means of hanging, mounting, and/or securing an extinguisher will be required to be listed or approved. Brackets will be required to have releasing straps or bands. Field-fabricated hangers and brackets will not be permitted.

Committee’s Substantiation: Text was added to help correct problems identified in the field for inappropriate installations.
Too often building occupants/owners believe an extinguisher can be placed in a general use cabinet along with other business storage. The revised text clarifies that the cabinet must be of an approved type.
The annex was revised to remove the specific construction description of a portable extinguisher stand.


Section (new), FIRST REVISION NO. 31

Only surface mounted cabinets or fire-rated cabinets shall be installed in 1-hour and 2-hour fire-resistance-rated walls.

Committee’s Substantiation: Only surface mounted cabinets or fire-rated cabinets which are specially constructed with gypsum board installed on the sides, top, bottom, and back and are intended to be installed in 1-hour and 2-hour fire-resistance-rated walls. Cabinets that are not fire-rated should not be installed in these walls as they would make the entire fire-rated wall non-compliant.


The 2016 Edition of NFPA 409 Standard on Aircraft Hangars was issued by the Standards Council at their April 2015 meeting. This new edition incorporates several significant changes that impact the design of fire protection systems in new Group I and Group II aircraft hangars.


#1 - Foam System Zoning. Low-level foam systems in Group I hangars can now be divided into zones that are independently activated, based on activation of an associated sprinkler zone or automatic detection zone. Manual activation is still required to cause all zones to discharge simultaneously and to provide coverage over the entire storage and servicing area. However, automatic activation of smaller zones may limit the affected area and the consumed quantity of foam solution in the event of an isolated fire or accidental discharge.


#2 - Water Reservoirs. The standard has long required water reservoirs to be divided into equal parts, in order to ensure that at least half of the required supply is always maintained in service. This has been changed to a recommendation, because the water reservoirs for hangars are dedicated supplies that do not require redundancy in all cases.


#3 - Redundant Fire Pumps. Historically, NFPA 409 has attempted to ensure the reliability of hangar protection systems by requiring the installation of a redundant fire pump, such that the minimum water demand can be met with the largest pump out of service. This has been relaxed in recognition of the reliability of modern fire pumps that are maintained in accordance with industry standards. The 2016 edition requires a minimum of two pumps, but a redundant pump will not be required for systems that use two or more pumps to meet the minimum demand. All pumps must be of equal capacity.


#4 - Reserve Supplies of Foam Concentrate. Previous editions have required the installation of a connected reserve supply of foam concentrate with a manual means of switching between the main and reserve supplies. The reserve supply is now permitted to meet the requirements of the 2016 edition of NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam. This edition of NFPA 11 does not require a connected reserve (though it is obviously permissible to provide one). Instead, the reserve supply must be either stored on-site or available within 24 hours in order to put the system back into service after operation.


To review all of the changes in the new edition of NFPA 409, see the Second Draft Report.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!List of Annual 2015 documents issued by the NFPA Standards Council as Consent Standards

!|src=|alt=11-2016|style=width: 175px;|title=11-2016|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a01b8d0e294a6970c01b8d1261ddc970c img-responsive!

NFPA 11, 2016 Edition


The 2016 edition of NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam will be presented for action during the 2015 NFPA Technical Meeting, which will take place during the Conference and Expo in Chicago on June 22-25. In total, fifteen amending motions have been certified for this document.

If pursued, amending motions 11-1 through 11-14 will seek to accept public comments related to self-expanding foam systems, which are not currently addressed by NFPA 11. If the motion passes, the scope of the standard will be expanded to incorporate requirements for this new technology.

If pursued, amending motion 11-15 will seek to reject a second revision that limits the use of unprotected carbon steel pipe to wet pipe systems that are filled with foam solution or water (Second Revision No. 12). If the motion passes, the standard will return to the First Draft text, which permitted unprotected carbon steel pipe to be used for any system having outlets that are closed to the atmosphere.


For information regarding the NFPA Standards Development Process, visit .

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Download this year's NFPA Technical Meeting (Tech Session) agenda

NFPA 407-2017The NFPA Technical Committee on Aircraft Fuel Servicing met on September 24-26, 2014, to develop the First Draft of the 2017 Edition of NFPA 407 Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing. The result is a completely reformatted standard that organizes the requirements into chapters based on the type of aircraft fuel servicing equipment (i.e., fueling facilities, fueling vehicles, rooftop heliports, and self-servicing). In addition, each chapter makes use of a consistent numbering system for each topic. Prior editions organized the information into broader chapters for Design and Operation, which have proved difficult to navigate in practice.

At the same time, the committee considered input from the public and reviewed each and every requirement with respect to existing technologies, updated knowledge, and current best practices. The draft incorporates many technical changes.

Those who use or reference NFPA 407 are encouraged to review the draft, which can be accessed from the NFPA 407 Document Information Page. It will remain open for public comment until May 15, 2015.

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