Many people are unaware of the protections provided by The National Electrical Code ® (NEC) or the process through which this code becomes law. While it is not necessary to understand the ins and outs, one should be aware of what is at risk when an outdated version is applied.
What is the Code?
The National Electrical Code (NEC) codifies the minimum requirements for safe electrical installations in a single, standardized source. While the NEC is not itself a U.S. law, the NEC is commonly mandated by state or local law. Local jurisdictions and code enforcement boards inspect for compliance with the minimum standards, as set forth in the code.
What is the revision process?
The NEC is revised by the National Fire Protection Association's Committee on the National Electrical Code, which consists of 19 code-making panels and a technical correlating committee. Revision occurs every three years to ensure that the code takes into account the latest in technology and safety. Following the release of a new edition, the development process continues; soliciting proposals for amendment. Anyone, including the public, may submit proposals but they should demonstrate data-based evidence that clearly indicates a need for the revision. Panels then review all proposed revisions and comments and, through consensus, establish the rules that then make up the next version of the NEC.
Is it necessary to update the Code every three years?
Any delay in the adoption of the most recent edition of the NEC prevents construction from incorporating new technology and practices that were not available for consideration in the previous edition. Prolonged use of outdated codes also stifles the continuous dialogue and transparency of the process and leaves residents years behind the established minimum requirements for safe electrical installations. This not only puts residents at a heightened risk of electrical hazards, but also hinders the development of future technologies associated with electrical safety and energy efficiency.
As the unbiased authority on electrical safety, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a staunch supporter of the National Electrical Code ® and its current three-year revision cycle. The process is accountable to the public, both in soliciting public participation in the development process and the resulting protections provided by the Code. ESFI strongly encourages states and jurisdictions to adopt the most recent NEC edition to protect its residents with the latest advancements in electrical safety. The NEC saves lives and its importance should not be minimized; it is the agreed upon minimum standard for safety, as determined by experts, and should be promptly adopted in full.