Electric Room Information Needed

I have been asked to research the restrictions regarding storage of items
not related to any function of the electrical system in electric rooms. The
company requesting this information has been told that they can't store
anything in the electric room in question (one 208Y120 sub panel, phone
system, security system, and entrance control system). This has turned into
something closely resembling a dog chasing its tail. :-]
I can't find any reference to a definition in the 2002 NEC for an
"Electrical Room".
The only article that appears to address the information I'm after is 110.
Article 110.26 refers to access, and working space. Working space seems
clearly addressed in 110.26(A). However, access space seems to be undefined.
There is a reference to entrance requirements giving access to working
space in 110.26 (C). It appears to me that the only NEC restriction to
storage near an electrical panel is limited to working space in
110.26(A)(3), but that only addresses the working space and not the
electrical room proper.
The local AHJ isn't much assistance other than referring to 110.26.
The local Fire Marshal prohibits the storage of flammable materials such as
solvents, and paints, etc. in an electrical room, but the don't offer a
definition of an electrical room.
The company in question wants to utilize as much space in the electric room
for storage (computer cables and parts, janitorial supplies, and misc.) as
legally possible, but also wants to avoid any lawsuits or sanctions over the
issue.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone that has been exposed to, or
researched the restrictions/implications of storage in an electric room (or
even an official definition of an electrical room :-] ).
Thank you.
Louis
Reply to
Louis Bybee
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in my (present) area the rule is 36" straight in front of a power panel must be kept clear.
your local building inspector should have the correct information.
Reply to
Tim Perry
| I have been asked to research the restrictions regarding storage of items | not related to any function of the electrical system in electric rooms. The | company requesting this information has been told that they can't store | anything in the electric room in question (one 208Y120 sub panel, phone | system, security system, and entrance control system). This has turned into | something closely resembling a dog chasing its tail. :-] | | I can't find any reference to a definition in the 2002 NEC for an | "Electrical Room".
Electrical panels can be in very large rooms, or tiny closets. Creating such a definition is hard to do.
| The only article that appears to address the information I'm after is 110. | Article 110.26 refers to access, and working space. Working space seems | clearly addressed in 110.26(A). However, access space seems to be undefined. | There is a reference to entrance requirements giving access to working | space in 110.26 (C). It appears to me that the only NEC restriction to | storage near an electrical panel is limited to working space in | 110.26(A)(3), but that only addresses the working space and not the | electrical room proper.
The code is requiring that the panel(s) be easily accessible for service without any delay in moving stuff around, as well as making it easy to escape should any dangerous condition occur.
| The local AHJ isn't much assistance other than referring to 110.26.
So follow it in the terms it does define. It's not about the room per se; it's about the area and space required to access the panel(s).
| The local Fire Marshal prohibits the storage of flammable materials such as | solvents, and paints, etc. in an electrical room, but the don't offer a | definition of an electrical room.
In this case, the definition should be broad. Certain materials can release vapors that when they reach the small arcs that can be present in a panel when a breaker is operated, or trips, or with loose wiring, could explode. Those need to be placed so that such vapors cannot reach the panels.
| The company in question wants to utilize as much space in the electric room | for storage (computer cables and parts, janitorial supplies, and misc.) as | legally possible, but also wants to avoid any lawsuits or sanctions over the | issue.
Computer cables should be benign as long as they are not in the way. The janitorial supplies, such as cleaning fluids, could be a hazard. Even the toilet paper stock could be, if close to where an arc might take place.
| I would appreciate hearing from anyone that has been exposed to, or | researched the restrictions/implications of storage in an electric room (or | even an official definition of an electrical room :-] ).
The code generally isn't worried about defining rooms. It's worried more about real hazards that can exist, regardless of how the rooms are defined.
Reply to
phil-news-nospam
Your fighting a loosing battle. Surrender early and it does not hurt as much . I worked for an university that people would put desks and cabinets in front of the electrical equipment. Management refused to do anything about it, we were told to put signs on all the electrical equipment. No sign no enforcement. What a joke. As long as you can work on the equipment and the doors open fully "for get about it." Space cost so much now days that ever inch is utilized by some firms. This whole issue should give you pause; think about what they are saying to you. We need space more than we have good sense. The risk management boys are at it again. The odds are nothing will happen and they gained X amount of space. Good luck and watch yourself you could be next.
Reply to
SQLit
"Louis Bybee" wrote in news:0Q9Tc.144435$eM2.112423@attbi_s51:
You may wish to refer to your local branch of OSHA. They may have more specific definitions.
Reply to
Anthony
Some cut.
No real words of wisdom, just a comment on human nature. If anyone is allowed to store anything in there, everyone will store everything in there.
Dean
Reply to
Dean Hoffman
A couple of things come to mind.
1. In some cases (such as medium voltage rooms > 600V), there is a requirement that only authorized personnel be allowed access. Thus it would be inappropriate to allow storage of janitorial supplies and the like in such an area since this would imply the area was not secured or that unauthorized personnel had access.
2. there are certain work space requirements that would need to be respected, but that would not prevent the storage of materials in areas that do not impinge on those work areas.
3. certain types of materials are required to be stored in areas that an electrical room might not meet. for one flammable materials generally have to be stored in grounded metal cabinets, and thus it would not be appropriate to store such items just any where, electrical room or not.
Reply to
Bob Peterson
You don't mention where you are, and which building code you are working under, so specifics would require research. If you are talking about the typical utility closet that contains the electric panel, phone panel, janitors supplies, spare bulbs, and the office christmas tree. Then the rule about access to the panels is widely ignored. IF you are talking about a big room in the basement that has large cabinets and transformers and distributes power to a large building, there are rules about access only by authorized and trained service personnel.
As an exercise in exploring the possibilities, take some masking tape or chalk and draw on the floor all the mandatory access ways for the electrical equipment, and whatever other equipment is installed in there. How much space it left? Is it in a convenient area so you could have a contractor come in and build a wall to turn that into a separate room? Departing the realm of codes and people who follow all the rules to planet reality... If you allow any storage in the room, then eventually everything will be stored in the room, and leaned up against the panels, blocking access, and likely posing a fire/safety hazard. Some of them would probably be flammable liquids, possibly buying fines on the next fire inspection. I'd advise making the room smaller if feasible, freeing up that space for other use. I'd also advise not allowing any storage in a dedicated electrical room. Consult with the risk assessment folks of the companies insurance company, they may decide to raise the insurance rates if the room is used for storage. Changing the use of the room like this without getting the insurance company to sign off on this may give them grounds to disallow damage claims later. This would be, as they say, a bad thing.
--Dale
Reply to
Dale Farmer
The building is a three story commercial office use unit with one tenant. The electric room in question contains a subpanel along with the other mentioned panels/items. The approximate dimensions are 7' wide, and 8' deep. It is located in a large metropolitan city in Oregon. Obviously it falls under the jurisdiction of the NEC. Additionally the Oregon Uniform Building Code, Oregon Structural Specialty Code, OSHA regulations, and fire codes would also apply. The further I research this situation I'm convinced that even the agencies mandated to regulate compliance of the various codes covering the question at hand are frequently unsure of exactly which/how specific code articles apply, and more so how the various agencies codes relate to each other.
In discussions with the management they are adamant about continuing to store items in the room, but concerned about the code/legal implications, and possible resulting fallout. dividing the room could be an option, but I suspect they wouldn't accept the additional costs involved.
This is a very interesting issue to research, and at this point I'm unsure how it will play out. :-]
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
If they really want to store stuff there anyway, then it doesn't really matter what you find. Sounds like this is a fairly typical utility room since architects like to mash all of that stuff into one too small room. I'd be careful that they are looking for you to provide a legal CYA for them. I'd err on the conservative side on recommendations, and keep copies of all correspondence in a permanent file that you keep. Include the recommendation that they inform their insurance company, and the landlord if any. I'm over in the people's commonwealth of Massachusetts, so I can't speak to Oregon law and codes. Good luck and be careful.
--Dale
Reply to
Dale Farmer

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