NATIONAL ELECTRIC CODE (2002)
New Requirements To Remove Abandoned Cable
The ABR Consulting Group, Inc.
has been following recent National Electric Code (NEC) requirements to remove
abandoned electrical and telecom cable from existing buildings. Due to the
volume of cable in existing buildings (especially high-rise buildings) and due
to cables being a suspected contributor to the fuel and toxic substances in
pyrolytic events (smoke, heat fire), action to remove abandoned cable has been
taken. Accumulated cables under the raised floor of a computer room
is an especially juicy target. The NEC code articles listed below define
the circumstances under which the cable must be removed. However, it
doesn't say who pays for it. We predict that clauses relating to this
topic will soon appear in building leases.
Below is a very nice write-up by
Frank Bisbee, President of Communication Planning Corporation (or a member of
his staff). Frank's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
His website can visited at
Frank has a great newsletter.
NEC 2002 - requirement for
removal of abandoned cable
National Electric Code (NEC) contains the pertinent mandatory Codes.
These Codes are rules intended to ensure the safety during installation,
use and/or disposal of materials, components, fixtures, and systems.
The Codes ensure minimum construction quality and ensure
safety of life, health and property.
The new fire safety
provision to require the removal of abandoned cable is the first change to
cabling requirements in the National Electrical Code in more than 20 years. In
1978, NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) made an exception to NFPA 90A
- Standard for the Installation of Air-Conditioning and Ventilating Systems,
which requires any materials installed in a plenum space to be either
“noncombustible” or “limited combustible.” The exception, which allowed
cables tested and rated as CMP to be installed in the return air plenum, was
drafted more than 25 years ago. In
the 1970's, no cables were available which could meet the requirements of
non-combustible or limited combustible rating.
In the past several years, the cabling industry has developed cables
which meet the NFPA 90A requirements for Limited Combustible and these cables
are recognized in the current NEC 2002.
NEC is revised on a three-year cycle. The
next revision of the NEC will be in 2005. The
NEC code (when recognized and accepted) is enforced by the AHJ (Authority Having
Jurisdiction), which includes state, local, county and city code authorities.
Each AHJ can adopt the NEC
code in whole or partially.
attached current pending NEC 2002 Adoption Schedule by State).
Some cities may elect to adopt the entire or partial current NEC code on
a timetable not included in the attached schedule.
new NEC 2002
requires that abandoned cable be removed for both copper and fiber.
accumulation of miles and miles of cabling left in the ceilings and walls of
facilities has become a major concern for life safety over the
years. A recent Toxics Use Reduction Institute presentation at the RCRA National
January 16, 2002
estimated that there is over 45 billion feet of plenum cable in
place. Cables that are abandoned in
ceilings, riser systems, and air handling systems have always been a source for
fueling fire and smoke. The NEC 2002 requires the removal of abandoned cable
to reduce the fuel load in case of a fire.
The buildup of layers upon layers of cabling has become a major concern
to life and safety over the past 10 years.
is the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1976. RCRA's
primary goals are to protect human health and the environment from the potential
hazards of waste disposal, to conserve energy and natural resources, to reduce
the amount of waste generated, and to ensure that wastes are managed in
an environmentally sound manner. In 1984, Congress
enacted the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) which significantly
expanded the scope and requirements of RCRA.
definition of abandoned cable, as found in paragraphs 800.2 and 770.2 of the NEC
Book, states "....Installed communications cable that is not terminated
at both ends at a connector or other equipment and not identified "For
Future Use" with a tag." Admittedly,
this definition of abandoned cable in the NEC is somewhat vague.
There is a concerted effort in the NFPA to draft a set of clearer
definitions for this portion of the NEC 2002.
The definition clarity problem associated with the NEC 2002 - removal of
abandoned cable - does not make the code invalid.
Hopefully, the local authorities will use good judgment
and discretion in the application and enforcement of this code when
accepted by the AHJ.
copper cable, paragraph 800.52(B)
of the NEC
Code states "...The accessible portion
abandoned communications cables shall not be permitted to remain.."
800.52(1) states that abandoned cables in vertical runs
shall not be permitted to remain. Article
770 states the same requirements for optical fiber risers and horizontal cables.
cabling end users should understand the implications of not complying with these
new NEC Codes. They are based on safety
of the employees and rescue personnel.
As the code is enforced across the country, building owners and tenants could
face thousands of dollars in additional costs to remove and dispose of
the abandoned cables, tag and manage the remaining cable plant in their riser
and communications areas, and insure that tenants install proper cables to meet
the building requirements for fire and safety of their other tenants.
Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com
Phone: 925.872.5523 Fax: 925.484.4007