This piece was originally published in the December 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Jack Lyons, Northeast Field Representative, NEMA
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Protection Research Foundation sponsored a meeting of the Electrical Safety Research Advisory Committee (ESRAC) during the Second Draft meetings for the National Electrical Code® (NEC) in San Diego, California, in October. NEMA is represented by Vince Baclawski, senior technical director, and Jack Lyons, Northeast field representative.
Casey Grant, director of the foundation, and Donny Cook, advisory committee chair, opened the meeting at which members of the code-making panels and other industry stakeholders examined electrical safety issues that may need to be part of the foundation’s research projects.
The agenda included an overview of the foundation; current, completed, and proposed projects; a discussion on Power over Ethernet (PoE); and a discussion on marinas and pools.
Identifying Future Concerns
The ESRAC functions as a steering committee for the foundation to consider projects that have the greatest value for, or impact on, the electroindustry.
The increase in the installation of PoE systems has led to concerns over their effects on building safety. The NEC has addressed the cabling structures within buildings by focusing on the bundling of data cables that make up the systems.
Overheating is a safety and performance issue for PoE, and Article 725 has tackled some of these concerns with ampacity tables for data/power cables along with some new cable designations. Some key takeaways included:
- Identification as inherently safe
- Expanded use in life safety systems
- Electrical safety of workers
- Code applications and licensing requirements
With input from attendees, the committee identified the top five topics for future research projects as:
- Code adoption and regulatory licensing
- Equipment grounding conductors
- Cord-connected appliances in kitchens
- Marinas and pools
- Data collection on electrical fires
In a separate discussion it was noted that NEMA could help in developing or sponsoring webinars on the fundamentals, benefits, and limitations of PoE systems.