NECA long ago embraced the principle that a qualified electrical contractor knows and abides by the National Electrical Code as well as any applicable local codes. In fact, participating in the formulation of effective codes and standards that protect public safety and promote quality was one of the first responsibilities that NECA took on.
Published in 1897, the first National Electrical Code was a slim 56-page document developed specifically to minimize fire hazards in textile mill installations. Of 65 New England textile mills that “electrified” before the end of the nineteenth century, 23 suffered major fires within the first six months after their lighting was installed. However, like the local and regional codes that preceded it, this first national code was not highly effective.
In 1902, just a few months after NECA’s founding, the association developed recommendations for changing these rules that contractors previously had no voice in formulating. That year, NECA also earned representation in the National Conference on Standard Electrical Rules, NECA went on to secure a place on the five-man panel overhauling the National Electrical Code in 1907.
When it was time for review and update the NEC in 1923, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which had taken on responsibility for the code’s administration and oversight, called on NECA for assistance. That same year, NECA published the first cross-indexed reference on the National Electrical Code, a publication which became an industry standard.
The National Electrical Code is now updated on a regular three-year cycle, and NECA is represented on each of NFPA’s 20 code-making panels. The members of NECA’s Codes and Standard’s Committee who participate in this process take on such tasks as extensively studying relevant Code articles; reviewing proposed changes, often numbering in the thousands; originating revisions; corresponding with numerous interested parties; and participating in multiple Code meetings, NECA also participates in the development of the National Electrical Safety Code, concerning outside construction, and other life and safety codes.