As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.

All references are based on the 2005 NEC.

SOUND THE ALARM!

Barney O'Donnell, of HSI Security Systems, found this fire alarm panel at St. Anthony's School in Tigard, Ore. He had this to say about the installation. “Workmanship is only one violation. Nothing is fastened down in this cabinet. I was afraid to close the panel for fear of shorting something. Although it's not obvious, upon inspection I found no supervision of the NAC extender and woefully inadequate battery backup capacity. I wonder if this job was done with proper permits and if it passed any inspections at all?”

NEC Art. 760 covers the installation of wiring and equipment of fire alarm systems, including all circuits controlled and powered by the fire alarm system. As per 760.8, “Fire alarm circuits shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner. Cables and conductors installed exposed on the surface of ceilings and sidewalls shall be supported by the building structure in such a manner that the cable will not be damaged by normal building use. Such cables shall be supported by straps, staples, hangers, or similar fittings designed and installed so as not to damage the cable. The installation shall also conform with 300.4(D).”

For further information on the installation and monitoring for integrity requirements for fire alarm systems, refer to the NFPA 72-2002, National Fire Alarm Code. One source of information describing industry practices is ANCI/NECA 305-2001, Standard for Fire Alarm System Job Practice.

THE POWER OF GLUE — OR LACK THEREOF

Dave Stelzer, a registered professional engineer with Black & Veatch in Overland Park, Kan., found this receptacle when he moved a chair in a new luxury condo in Spirit Lake, Iowa. “The owners had requested a receptacle in the middle of the living space to serve a lamp or end table. The electrical contractor obviously had no idea how to install a receptacle in the concrete/tile floor. They cut off the type MC cable sheath at floor level and glued a surface raceway box to the floor. As you can see, the glue didn't hold. I expect this will short out eventually.”

Stelzer also noted the following Code violations for this installation:

  • 314.27(C), Floor Boxes. Boxes listed specifically for this application shall be used for receptacles located in the floor.

  • 330.40, Boxes and Fitting. Fittings used for connecting Type MC cable to boxes, cabinets, or other equipment shall be listed and identified for such use.

  • 110.12, Mechanical Execution of Work. Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.

Found a Code Violation? E-mail your photos to Joe Tedesco at joetedesco@comcast.net.