Electrical Room 1200 Amps and Over

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
I know we've had a recent discussion on egress from these types of rooms. We are working on a project where the room is currently in violation and needs to be brought up to code. The only other apparent location available on one end would require installing a door about 3 feet off the floor, with stairs and a platform. In addition, the space that this door leads to is another electrical room that is connected, circuit-wise, to the first room. The architect is insisting that this arrangement meets the requirements of the NEC, and I can't find anything in the appropriate article (110.26.C) that says directly otherwise. Before anyone asks, the room does not meet either of the two conditions that would obviate the need for two exits. While this may be OK code-wise, neither I nor my colleague feel comfortable with it. Finding an exit is tough enough when your head is going "RUN! RUN! RUN!" without negotiating a flight of stairs, however short, into a space where the fault or whatever may have propagated into. Thoughts?
 

ron

Senior Member
I also checked the IBC section 1010.1.10 to see if the language would force an actual means of egress, which is defined in the building code, but it doesn't require that.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
My only thought was "on bring it up to code" was, was it built to code back when it was installed or has it never been right?
It's some public agency in NYC, likely built before the '30's. When did the two-exit requirement come into effect?
 

mwm1752

Senior Member
Location
Aspen, Colo
I know we've had a recent discussion on egress from these types of rooms. We are working on a project where the room is currently in violation and needs to be brought up to code. The only other apparent location available on one end would require installing a door about 3 feet off the floor, with stairs and a platform. In addition, the space that this door leads to is another electrical room that is connected, circuit-wise, to the first room. The architect is insisting that this arrangement meets the requirements of the NEC, and I can't find anything in the appropriate article (110.26.C) that says directly otherwise. Before anyone asks, the room does not meet either of the two conditions that would obviate the need for two exits. While this may be OK code-wise, neither I nor my colleague feel comfortable with it. Finding an exit is tough enough when your head is going "RUN! RUN! RUN!" without negotiating a flight of stairs, however short, into a space where the fault or whatever may have propagated into. Thoughts?
Could you clarify 2 of your statements -- I assume the code violations have nothing to do with egress.
1 - We are working on a project where the room is currently in violation and needs to be brought up to code.
2 - Before anyone asks, the room does not meet either of the two conditions that would obviate the need for two exits.
Seems you are asking if you add another exit (that is not required) can you use stairs & landing to enter or exit for the additional door.
You also state the 2nd door enters another electrical room - Are you considering the new opening as an exit out of the other electrical room & does personnel doors for such rooms with 800 amp or greater come into play? (door swing direction of egress)
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Could you clarify 2 of your statements -- I assume the code violations have nothing to do with egress.
1 - We are working on a project where the room is currently in violation and needs to be brought up to code.
2 - Before anyone asks, the room does not meet either of the two conditions that would obviate the need for two exits.
Seems you are asking if you add another exit (that is not required) can you use stairs & landing to enter or exit for the additional door.
You also state the 2nd door enters another electrical room - Are you considering the new opening as an exit out of the other electrical room & does personnel doors for such rooms with 800 amp or greater come into play? (door swing direction of egress)
The code violations have everything to do with egress. We need to add a second exit. The only apparently viable option is to create a door in a wall that goes into another electrical room. This door apparently existed at one point in the past. However, in addition to being another electrical room which is connected circuit-wise to the room in question, that door would be 3 feet above the floor and would need a platform in front of it. So, the question is, are we abating the violation, or merely creating a slightly less hazardous situation?
 

steve66

Senior Member
Its kind of hard to answer without knowing the exact layout and dimensions of the room.

But I would ask myself these questions:

1. Is it really required to update an installation to the current code if it complied with the code when it was installed?
2. If so, can the service be divided into 800A disconnects that don't require 2 means of egress.
3. If not, is there enough room someone can get out from in front of the equipment (and out of the arc flash boundry) before going up the stairs? If so, I really don't see a problem.

Arc flashes don't typically propagate to separate enclosures, so I wouldn't worry about the other room being another electrical room.
 

mwm1752

Senior Member
Location
Aspen, Colo
The code violations have everything to do with egress. We need to add a second exit. The only apparently viable option is to create a door in a wall that goes into another electrical room. This door apparently existed at one point in the past. However, in addition to being another electrical room which is connected circuit-wise to the room in question, that door would be 3 feet above the floor and would need a platform in front of it. So, the question is, are we abating the violation, or merely creating a slightly less hazardous situation?

Is the opening proposed have a hinged door? Because if it does the the egress path & direction of door swing are the same & if you have 800 + amps in the other room an egress door out would have the same condition for swing - conundrum effect - -- a stair with handrails is not the issue & a platform is only required when the door swing is over the platform.
 

ron

Senior Member
It's some public agency in NYC, likely built before the '30's. When did the two-exit requirement come into effect?
Prior to LOCAL LAW 64 of 2001, NYC's electric code was the wild west.

Similar to what Steve66 said, be sure you need to bring this old condition up to code. Unless you found someone's old grey cover loose-leaf Electric code from the archive, the NYC Electric Code was not always documented well. If this was greater than 1000kVA, the Electrical advisory board review may have been dependent on whoever slipped over the biggest envelope.
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
...While this may be OK code-wise, neither I nor my colleague feel comfortable with it. Finding an exit is tough enough when your head is going "RUN! RUN! RUN!" without negotiating a flight of stairs, however short,...
Fire exits can have a flight (or more) of stairs after the egress. Appropriate railing would be necessary, but this shouldn't bother you in and of itself.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Prior to LOCAL LAW 64 of 2001, NYC's electric code was the wild west.

Similar to what Steve66 said, be sure you need to bring this old condition up to code. Unless you found someone's old grey cover loose-leaf Electric code from the archive, the NYC Electric Code was not always documented well. If this was greater than 1000kVA, the Electrical advisory board review may have been dependent on whoever slipped over the biggest envelope.
Talking to my colleague, he believes it might be the '50's, so certainly before the watershed 1968 codes.

Whether or not you have to bring it up to code is usually a function of whomever is reviewing your design at the agency, regardless of what the code might say.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Fire exits can have a flight (or more) of stairs after the egress. Appropriate railing would be necessary, but this shouldn't bother you in and of itself.
Unfortunately, the flight will be before the egress. I don't know if it's forbidden, but I think it's a bad idea.
 

steve66

Senior Member
Whether or not you have to bring it up to code is usually a function of whomever is reviewing your design at the agency, regardless of what the code might say.
And I would also say it depends a lot on what you are doing. just adding a feeder breaker, or replacing the service could make a world of difference.
 

MNWildcat

Member
Location
MN
If the new path leads to another elec room, you don't necessarily need a door between them, just an opening. You still have the stair issue, but I think it could be ok.
 

egurdian3

Member
Location
Germantown, MD
Egress from Working Space 110.26(C)

Egress from Working Space 110.26(C)

Seems like everything comes down to $$ so; pose the question to the arch. -do they want to spend the money to prevent a law suit -or do they want to spend the money bringing the room up to code? It probably will be cheaper to cut a door in the wall.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
The only other apparent location available on one end would require installing a door about 3 feet off the floor, with stairs and a platform. In addition, the space that this door leads to is another electrical room that is connected, circuit-wise, to the first room. The architect is insisting that this arrangement meets the requirements of the NEC, and I can't find anything in the appropriate article (110.26.C) that says directly otherwise.
I agree with the architect. The objective of either exit is to allow the worker to move to a distance away from the equipment that is undergoing a fault. Once you are clear of the working space, the code does not care where you will be situated. Once you are clear, you are safe. If you find yourself unable to move any further, and if you therefore have to wait for hours and hours for someone to come to your rescue, then during those hours and hours you will be safe. That is all that matters.
 

egurdian3

Member
Location
Germantown, MD
WAIT FOR HOURS??

WAIT FOR HOURS??


I agree with the architect. The objective of either exit is to allow the worker to move to a distance away from the equipment that is undergoing a fault. Once you are clear of the working space, the code does not care where you will be situated. Once you are clear, you are safe. If you find yourself unable to move any further, and if you therefore have to wait for hours and hours for someone to come to your rescue, then during those hours and hours you will be safe. That is all that matters.
Charlie, you know how there are no Atheists in a foxhole? I feel the same about an exploding, burning electrical room.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Charlie, you know how there are no Atheists in a foxhole?
I am not familiar with that expression. But I suspect it is not literally true.
I feel the same about an exploding, burning electrical room.
I don't think I would want to stick around and watch that happening. That said, once I am no longer in the room that has all that happening, the responsibility of the NEC, the electrical engineer who designed the room, and the electrician who built the room will have ended. I am drawing the line between "emergency conditions" and "stable conditions." The intent of code requirements is to give the worker a reasonable opportunity to exit the danger area. That is what I mean by "emergency conditions." The code is not concerned with allowing the worker to make it to the truck in time for lunch. That is what I mean by "stable conditions."
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
I am not familiar with that expression. But I suspect it is not literally true.
I don't think I would want to stick around and watch that happening. That said, once I am no longer in the room that has all that happening, the responsibility of the NEC, the electrical engineer who designed the room, and the electrician who built the room will have ended. I am drawing the line between "emergency conditions" and "stable conditions." The intent of code requirements is to give the worker a reasonable opportunity to exit the danger area. That is what I mean by "emergency conditions." The code is not concerned with allowing the worker to make it to the truck in time for lunch. That is what I mean by "stable conditions."
So, if the worker has to negotiate a flight of stairs and a landing before he hits the door, that's OK?

As for the door, which way would it swing? It could be considered an exit for each space, and exit doors must open in the direction of exit travel during an emergency.
 
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