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Thread: Turning off the emergency circuits and running optional equipment

  1. #1
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    Turning off the emergency circuits and running optional equipment

    I work for a district that is proposing turning off the emergency circuits to run freezers. The buildings would be evacuated, the generator can not handle the additional freezers. My recommendations are to upgrade the generator, install an optional ATS and a new load center. They are purposing installing the circuit in the EM panel and just turning them off manually to save money. As a code official and myself are in complete disagreement. The argument they have is there is no life to protect. I argued the emergency circuits are not just for evacuation of a building but also for first responders to enter. Any opinions are welcomed. I quoted 700 but they are standing firm that no one is in the building. I see a major liability.

  2. #2
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    I think the code is pretty clear in that only emergency loads are allowed as part of an emergency system. The question I would ask is are you sure your system is classified as an emergency, article 700 system?

  3. #3
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    If the EM Panel is an Article 700, then you can't commingle 702 loads in there.
    Ron

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by goindowner View Post
    The argument they have is there is no life to protect.
    I believe it is not possible for them to ensure that this would be true for each and every instance in which the utility normal power is lost. The code requires egress lights to have power for at least 90 minutes. If there is no fire and the only bad thing that happens is the utility power goes out, then there will be some schmuck who wants to continue working (or whatever) for 85 of those minutes. Having someone announce "evacuate" (if there even is power to the PA system) is not going to be enough to assure that "there is no life to protect." Unless they have a plan to have a team personally look into each and every room to assure all rooms are empty of personnel (which by the way will take up a goodly portion of the 90 minutes), then the argument that there is no life to protect becomes total nonsense.

    But I don't get the basic concept here. I suspect that the only article 700 loads are the egress lights. Please tell us whether that is correct. If it is, then I would think that they don't take up much of a generator's capacity. How is it, then, that the generator can handle a bunch of freezers, and not also handle the very small load from egress lights? Can you clarify the situation?

    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  5. #5
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    Charlie, My apologies for not responding sooner, like everyone in Florida hurricane preparations. To the best of my knowledge, the generators were only sized to handle the emergency egress lights and the exit lights and they are all old and I don't think they are operating at the KW ratings. I have not checked the recent load banks, a different department handles it. I know when I have checked the log books the technicians are not signing them.

  6. #6
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    These are public schools and the thought is they are closed no one should be there, except personnel accessing the damage/ damage response teams.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by USMC1302 View Post
    I think the code is pretty clear in that only emergency loads are allowed as part of an emergency system. The question I would ask is are you sure your system is classified as an emergency, article 700 system?


    Yes I am sure, the emergency lights, egress lights, emergency notification system and the fire alarm.

  8. #8
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    Even if the meat remains frozen after loss of utility, the floods will make it inedible. Leave the EM circuits alone, IMO.

  9. #9
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    To the OP, do your emergency lights, fire alarm etc, have battery back-up? If they do, then maybe your set-up really isn't an "emergency" article 700 system? I have seen many schools with "emergency" generators that really are likely optional stand-by classifications. They do provide power to egress lighting, but mainly supplement the battery packs. If the lights did not have battery power, then I would think it would be a true "emergency" system. Similarly, these school set-ups had other loads, such as HVAC pumps, IT equipment, walk-in freezers/coolers on the same transfer switch. This should not be if it is a true Article 700 set-up, from what I understand.

  10. #10
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    IMHO this is a legalistic question with a legalistic solution.

    If, after all evacuations and first responder access the occupancy of the structure is legally changed so that you no longer require an article 700 system, then you can re-purpose your generators as you wish.

    This would not make sense for short duration power loss, but might make sense in a long duration power outage where the school is shut down.

    -Jon

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