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    Critical Panel location

    Critical Panelboards location.

    I'm in MA and I recently came across a newish Critical Branch panelboard in the Pharmacy within a hospital, located NOT in a dedicated electrical room. Now, as you know, in 2014 the NEC changed 517 such that Critical panels were no longer considered one of the two branches constituting the Emergency Branch and therefore governed by Article 700. Article 700 had until 2014 been heavily modified by the Mass amendments, particularly 700.10 which had made clear that all Critical and LS panelboards needed to be in rated rooms and fed with 2 hour feeders.

    Skipping forward to the present. The Critical Branch per the NEC is no longer governed by article 700 and Mass hasn't made any amendments to 517 undoing that.

    SO - I believe this Critical Panel that I've encountered not in any kind of a room (rated or otherwise) and NOT fed by MI IS code compliant. I have no doubt that the MI is not needed (even when most hospitals are by policy still doing it that way), but what about the room part. The area IS sprinklered, and therefore I think its ok. What say you?
    Mike Shields, PE
    Boston, MA

    #2
    I can't speak to Mass amendments, but as far as the NEC goes, its a mess. I always thought that fire protective methods and rooms were not required if the building was sprinklered.

    Now the handbook has changed its commentary to say that sprinklers are also needed above the ceilings. Not sure I agree with that.

    But there are also a couple of TIA's that seem to indicate the fire protective requirements and rated rooms are NOT needed for health care facilities.

    And I believe NFPA 99 also exempts health care facilities from the fire protective requirements.

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      #3
      Thanks for the response Steve. My question was more convoluted than it needed to be. Since 517 divorced the Critical branch from 700 and since MA has never touched 517 (they mess with 700 quite a lot), the question is simply (as you correctly surmised), do critical branch panels per the NEC need to be in rated rooms. Your input was helpful if at least to say that there is no explicit requirement. To my knowledge the only code section that explicitely requires rated electrical rooms is Article 700. Do you agree?
      Mike Shields, PE
      Boston, MA

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