Trying to propose an additon to the code

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del91574

Member
Location
ct
In my state, as a LV/limited electrician, we are unable to "technically" do anything with the branch circuit, including wiring/connecting a LV transformer in the equipment to a 120V feed, even if it was verified dead and locked/tagged out. I've also had plenty of "unqualified" personnel go into a panel to power it down/disconnect batteries (NPL, of course) and do whatever else. Even though it's a code requirement, not many people put in a dedicated branch circuit for an alarm system or each supply that is needed, especially in the case of residential.

My thought is this, especially in the case of fire alarm, NAC's, alarm panels, etc.:
There should be some way to disconnect/remove power from the unit and disconnect the SLA batteries, such as a service switch or similar. Some manufacturers have had these for years, like the old Moose, Aritech, and Elk panels, but in the case of some of this equipment, when a reset is needed after a firmware update or "just because" it is exceptionally difficult, or at least not an easy proposition when the panel is fed from a breaker located in god-knows where. Also, what about some of these people that don't know how to properly disconnect or power down a system in the case of an emergency?

I'm not proposing a compromise in security or integrity of an install, but I think this would keep a lot of people from working on these panels hot, even if the voltages are lower (barring 120VAC feeds) but also protect the equipment and make service a heck of a lot easier, especially in the case of some of these larger fire alarm panels and networked systems. It really shouldn't be an expensive proposition for manufacturers either.

Thoughts?
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Keep in mind the NEC has nothing at all to do with licensing requirements and will not be making rules based on local licensing requirements.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Iwire is correct. I think your "beef" is with your state licensing board. I know in many jurisdictions HVAC techs for instance are allowed to do a limited amount of line voltage work to service or connect their equipment. That's no different than what you are looking to do.

... it is exceptionally difficult, or at least not an easy proposition when the panel is fed from a breaker located in god-knows where. Also, what about some of these people that don't know how to properly disconnect or power down a system in the case of an emergency?


That's the easy part. That information should be posted in the panel.

-Hal
 
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kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Keep in mind the NEC has nothing at all to do with licensing requirements and will not be making rules based on local licensing requirements.
Exactly. Who is qualified to do what is outside the scope of NEC.

NEC mentions qualified people in places but does not have any specific information on who is qualified, or what training or other criteria is necessary to be qualified.
 

del91574

Member
Location
ct
Seems like guys are misunderstanding my point(s).
I don't have a problem with my state and the states that we reciprocrate with, even with the NEC. I have 2 licenses and I am waiting my "cooling off" period and hours until I can take care of my unlimited electrical license. I also don't care about who installs what, I'm looking towards a safety standpoint.

I am more interested in the equipment to have some sort of disconnect ability at the unit, within the panel enclosure, which could be met easily with a slide switch or similar, even integrated into the circuit boards or device/enclosure. While in an ideal world, the circuit a panel is fed from is noted within the enclosure, this has nothing to do with the batteries that are consistently attached to the majority of these panels, and in my world, commonly 26 AH or larger.

I'm looking in the specific cases of FACP's and large power supplies, amps and NACS, as these are typically fed by 120VAC branch circuits, have considerable backup batteries, and lack the abilities to disconnect the AC power within the enclosure. In specific examples, I install and service Notifier fire equipment, and sometimes with a software change/upgrade, power should be cycled, and with the batteries and 120VAC landed directly to the boards, there is no "safe" way to do such. Same goes with large access control systems and supplies. Plenty of times these systems are worked on hot because it's not practical to kill an entire system to work on a single panel or supply, and frankly, the separation in a lot of these panels consists of a piece of cardboard or just air space. I'm ok with 120V on the terminals or feeding an internal transformer, but there's no way to disconnect the primary feed at the transformer or into the circuit board itself.

I've seen plenty of installs that have a single pole toggle switch installed in a handy box to switch power inside an enclosure, but I'm more interested in seeing something OEM or really designed for the purpose, such as a single switch that kills AC and the connected batteries on that panel circuit board. Furnace guys get service switches installed on their equipment, I'm thinking they should be installed for the low voltage fire and security side of the electrical trade.

Also, while it's not ideal, should a homeowner's panel start to go nuts, how are they to easily kill power without prior knowledge/tools? A slide switch on the panel to disconnect AC and backup batteries. Batteries have more amperage at hand on some of these panels than the power feeding the panel.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
sBoth NFPA 70 and NFPA 72 require that the power source be identified at the fire alarm panel. NFPA 70 even requires that the disconnect be marked with red. As far as the batteries go, the push on connections at the battery, in my opinion, serve as the battery disconnect.
If you want to propose a change the form in in the back of the code book. They are due at the NFPA by 5 pm on the first Friday of November 2011.
 
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gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Seems like guys are misunderstanding my point(s).
I don't have a problem with my state and the states that we reciprocrate with, even with the NEC. I have 2 licenses and I am waiting my "cooling off" period and hours until I can take care of my unlimited electrical license. I also don't care about who installs what, I'm looking towards a safety standpoint.

I am more interested in the equipment to have some sort of disconnect ability at the unit, within the panel enclosure, which could be met easily with a slide switch or similar, even integrated into the circuit boards or device/enclosure. While in an ideal world, the circuit a panel is fed from is noted within the enclosure, this has nothing to do with the batteries that are consistently attached to the majority of these panels, and in my world, commonly 26 AH or larger.

I'm looking in the specific cases of FACP's and large power supplies, amps and NACS, as these are typically fed by 120VAC branch circuits, have considerable backup batteries, and lack the abilities to disconnect the AC power within the enclosure. In specific examples, I install and service Notifier fire equipment, and sometimes with a software change/upgrade, power should be cycled, and with the batteries and 120VAC landed directly to the boards, there is no "safe" way to do such. Same goes with large access control systems and supplies. Plenty of times these systems are worked on hot because it's not practical to kill an entire system to work on a single panel or supply, and frankly, the separation in a lot of these panels consists of a piece of cardboard or just air space. I'm ok with 120V on the terminals or feeding an internal transformer, but there's no way to disconnect the primary feed at the transformer or into the circuit board itself.

I've seen plenty of installs that have a single pole toggle switch installed in a handy box to switch power inside an enclosure, but I'm more interested in seeing something OEM or really designed for the purpose, such as a single switch that kills AC and the connected batteries on that panel circuit board. Furnace guys get service switches installed on their equipment, I'm thinking they should be installed for the low voltage fire and security side of the electrical trade.

Also, while it's not ideal, should a homeowner's panel start to go nuts, how are they to easily kill power without prior knowledge/tools? A slide switch on the panel to disconnect AC and backup batteries. Batteries have more amperage at hand on some of these panels than the power feeding the panel.
I think your suggestion has merit. I know that Siemens XLS panels have a keyed AC power connectors and rocker switches on the power supplies to disconnect battery power. Tap the switches and pull the connector and the panel is dead.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Here the FD would have an issue with a local disconnect switch.

When I was installing FACPs I would typically install a switch for my own use but would remove the switch before final inspection.

There is no time where there is an an emergency need to shut down a fire panel.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Here the FD would have an issue with a local disconnect switch.

When I was installing FACPs I would typically install a switch for my own use but would remove the switch before final inspection.

There is no time where there is an an emergency need to shut down a fire panel.
No emergency need to shut down a FA panel plus you wouldn't want unintended shutdown either. Any local disconnect you would want within the panel or behind a lock to keep unauthorized persons from turning it off. I have seen many FA panels right inside public entrance to a building, especially school buildings. Panel usually has clear panel of some type so you can see status of system but has lockable door to keep unauthorized people out of it.

I think NEC probably sees that people that work on this type of equipment typically have the kind of training to know more about shutting off the supply and locking it out. Most items that require a disconnect within sight of equipment usually have more than just electrical hazard as a reason to disconnect - the driven machine is also a hazard for electrical or non electrical workers if the power supply is not opened, in almost all cases where a local disconnect is required. JMO.
 

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
In Washington our LV electricians could not disconnect or reconnect 120V power to a FA panel. A proposals was made and accepted to allow LV electricians to disconnect or reconnect 120V power to an FA panel based on the cost for businesses to have a journeyman do that. So the LV electrician scope of work was changed. I don't see the CMP going for your proposal, but hey, put in the proposal and see where it goes. I suspect they will say its local licensing issue.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
In Washington our LV electricians could not disconnect or reconnect 120V power to a FA panel. A proposals was made and accepted to allow LV electricians to disconnect or reconnect 120V power to an FA panel based on the cost for businesses to have a journeyman do that. So the LV electrician scope of work was changed. I don't see the CMP going for your proposal, but hey, put in the proposal and see where it goes. I suspect they will say its local licensing issue.
There is a difference between installing/uninstalling and disconnection for servicing. From my understanding this is what the OP intends to address with his proposal. All he is asking for is that disconnecting means be within sight. Certainly your Washington LV electricians are allowed to turn off a switch or breaker to disconnect for servicing.
 

del91574

Member
Location
ct
Exactly what the last poster said, a shutoff switch, preferably OEM on a circuit board, to disconnect the AC, whether it is 16VAC or 120VAC and the batteries (if applicable) from the equipment for the purpose of servicing the equipment, for whatever reason.

In my state, it has been a gray area for connection of 120VAC to the equipment when supplied by an HV electrician, such as tying the primary side of a transformer to line current, when provided by an HV electrician

IMO, it's similar to what one of our IBEW guys suggested regarding having 277 live above a ceiling feeding a troffer with no local means of disconnecting for servicing the unit, replacing ballasts, without killing the entire circuit, which is a struggle in some enviroments.
 

MisterCMK

Member
Location
Twin Cities, MN
What is wrong with turning off the circuit breaker for the fire alarm panel? Even if there was a slide switch or whatever on the board the board would still be hot up to that point.

Turn off the breaker and disconnect the batteries. I don't see what is so hard about that.
 

del91574

Member
Location
ct
In my case, this would take down additional units that are required for normal operation while the system is up and running, such as DAA's and NAC's. Also does not address equipment that may need power removed to perform a reset/reboot.

Disconnecting the batteries is not an easy proposition, since no disconnect switch is allowed and we are looking at a few pairs of 200AH batteries in enclosures.
 
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