Edition: Vol. 05, No. 08
Edition date: August 9, 2012


Important information from the Oregon Building Codes Division to local building departments.

BCD Office Closures

Friday, August 17, 2012 - Mandatory closure

BCD Events

None at this time


August 1: Building Codes Structures Board

August 9: Construction Industry Energy Board

August 16: State Plumbing Board

August 22: Alternative Inspection Rule Committee

August 28: Alternative Inspection Rule Committee

September 11: Board of Boiler Rules - rescheduled from Sept. 4

September 12: Mechanical Board - rescheduled from Sept. 5

September 18: Rulemaking Hearings

September 27: Electrical and Elevator Board

Statewide Interpretations

OSSC 907.2.6 and NPFA 72

OSSC 3411

Jurisdiction Questions or Issues

Email: localjurisdictioncontact.bcd

Aeron Teverbaugh

News Updates - August 9, 2012

Code interpretation: Fire alarm design in health care facilities

During a recent meeting of health care facilities managers and designers, the Oregon Health Authority, and fire officials, it came to light that the application of the occupant notification systems in health care facilities is not clear on the use of private or public mode signaling. A Statewide Code Interpretation was issued to answer the question, "Does the Oregon Structural Specialty Code allow a designer to choose whether to design a fire alarm system throughout a health care facility to either public mode or private mode as defined in the NFPA 72?"

The answer to the question is "yes." Whether or not to design to public mode or private mode is a discretional design consideration throughout a health care facility.

Occupant notification devices in health care facilities are not required where private mode signaling is installed in accordance with NFPA 72. This interpretation recognizes that health care facilities are subject to licensing requirements that are inclusive of rigorous training requirements for staff in the effective evacuation of all areas and spaces as well as "defend in place" techniques necessary for the safety of all patients and visitors. The interpretation covers the reasons and code language behind the answer.

Code interpretation: Elevator and platform lift
requirements for expanded mezzanines

During the adoption process for the new accessibility chapter in the 2010 Oregon Structural Specialty Code, the criteria for an elevator or a lift to mezzanine areas changed. Under the previous code provisions, an elevator or lift was not required until the space exceeded 3,000 square feet for any single application. A building could also have multiple mezzanines under 3,000 square feet and not trigger the access requirements. With the adoption of the new model code provisions, the 3,000 square feet criteria became applicable for the aggregate area of mezzanines.

The new criteria created some confusion and the Statewide Code Interpretation clarifies the following situation. When an existing building has a mezzanine space that is less than 3,000 square feet and a proposed addition to the mezzanine would push it over 3,000 square feet, is an elevator or platform lift automatically required because the sum of the area of the existing mezzanine and a proposed expansion result in an area greater than 3,000 square feet? The answer to this question is "no." The interpretation covers the reasons and code language behind the answer.

AFCI public meeting

On Aug. 8, 2012, BCD held a public meeting to gather information on whether to delay expansion of arc fault current interruption (AFCI) protection beyond residential bedrooms to other living areas. Several invited stakeholder groups and the general public testified on the issue.

On May 24, 2012, the Electrical and Elevator Board recommended we remove the expansion of AFCIs from Oregon code based on continued nuisance tripping concerns. The board sought and received feedback from contractors, installers, and manufacturers before making the May 24 recommendation. The board also recommended reconsideration of AFCIs during the next model code cycle (2014).

We then drafted a 120-day temporary rule to allow time to review whether the expanded AFCI protection should go forward as previously approved by the board and the division or be delayed through the current code cycle. The temporary rule postpones expanding requirements for AFCIs into family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms and allows us to gather more information at the public meeting.

Public meeting report
Several stakeholder groups and members of the public provided testimony at the public meeting. Invited testimony included representatives from:

  • Eaton Corporation
  • Independent Electrical Contractors of Oregon
  • National Electrical Contractors Association
  • National Electrical Manufacturers Association
  • Oregon Home Builders Association
  • Oregon Office State Fire Marshal
  • Underwriter's Laboratory

We requested each stakeholder group provide a response to the following five questions:

1. How many states have adopted, without modification, the AFCI requirements in the 2008 or later NEC?
2. What are the demonstrated safety benefits of AFCI protection? (e.g., number of preventable fires related to the lack of AFCI devices, loss of life or property traceable to fires caused by arcing)
3. Where there are reports of AFCI device tripping, what was determined to be the cause? (e.g., faulty wiring or post-wiring puncture, specific wiring methods, specific pieces of equipment/products)
4. What are the costs of complying with the requirements for installing AFCI protecting in living areas? (e.g., cost of devices, average cost of call backs)
5. Are you aware of instances where a homeowner has tried to bypass the device?

The testimony at the public meeting showed the strong opinions on the use of AFCIs and expanding the use to areas other than bedrooms within a home. Several stakeholders supported the expanded use of AFCIs, some supported the use of AFCIs but would prefer a delay in expansion to improve the technology, and others expressed frustration over the time spent resolving AFCI "nuisance trips."

We will continue to study the issue and hope to issue a determination by the end of September about whether to support the board's decision to delay implementation of the AFCI expansion.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Brett Salmon, Electrical Program policy analyst, at brett.d.salmon@state.or.us or Dennis Clements, chief electrical inspector, at dennis.l.clements@state.or.us.

2010 Oregon Energy Efficiency Specialty
Code training ending soon

This is a quick reminder that the 2010 Oregon Energy Efficiency Specialty Code (OEESC) course will not be available after Sept. 1. If you hold a Commercial Building Inspector or Building Plans Examiners certification, you are required to take a code-change course covering the 2010 OEESC at some point during the code cycle. If you still need to take this course, register through the Chemeketa eLearn system on or before Aug. 16 and complete it by Sept. 1.

The 2010 Oregon Structural Specialty Code Chapter 11 Accessibility Revisions is also available through Chemeketa's eLearn system. You can get more information about how to register for both of these courses on our website.

If you need more information or have questions, contact Sherri West at sherri.d.west@state.or.us or 503-373-7509.

Rules finalized - radon updates for new public buildings

On May 2, 2012, the Building Codes Structures Board approved for public hearing certain code changes to the Oregon Structural Specialty Code, which address statutorily driven radon mitigation standards.

The public hearing was held on July 17, 2012, with no comments received. Based on the approval from the board and the hearings officer's recommendation, the administrator signed the final rule. While the rule becomes effective Sept. 1, 2012, these requirements are only applicable for new public buildings constructed in Baker, Clackamas, Hood River, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill counties with initial building permits issued on or after April 1, 2013.

Construction Industry Energy Board - new standards approval

The Construction Industry Energy Board (CIEB) met on Aug. 9 where BCD took the opportunity to introduce a concept for new standards approval. Currently, it can take as much as five years for new standards to be recognized by the model code organizations and move toward eventual acceptance in Oregon. This puts builders who want to use new and innovative standards at a disadvantage. Our concept may help expedite approval and use of new and innovative standards without the delay imposed by a three-year code cycle. At the board's February meeting, the board elected Steven Trapp, a representative of the Electrical and Elevator Board as its new chairperson and at the August meeting, the board elected Bruce Dobbs, a representative of the Residential and Manufactured Structures Board as vice chair.

The CIEB is unique among our boards. It is made up of current board members from the Structural, Electrical, and Residential and Manufactured Structures boards. The CIEB has the authority to recommend energy efficiency standards directly to the director for acceptance throughout the state.

Alternative inspection rule advisory committee

BCD formed a rule advisory committee regarding a proposed rule that develops an alternative inspection pilot program for limited residential prefabricated construction.

Under this proposed rule, BCD may waive cover inspections for residential structures intended for rent, sale, or lease in the state of Oregon if the manufacturer complies with the requirements of the rule. Those requirements include a detailed quality control program, successful construction and inspection of at least one unit, a third-party warranty for the consumer, and auditing of the quality control program. BCD will perform a final inspection.

This rule will not waive any other requirements for construction of prefabricated structures - plans and permits are still required. This is an alternative to the existing process, which will not change.

The first meeting of this committee is schedule for Aug. 22, 2012, at BCD's Conference Room A.

If you have any questions, contact Richard Baumann at richard.j.baumann@state.or.us or 503-373-7559.

Energy performance scores are catching on

Some of you may have noticed Energy Performance Scores (EPS) popping up on newly constructed homes.

An EPS is a voluntary rating system developed by the Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) that rates a home's energy use (electricity and natural gas) relative to a similar-sized, code-built home in Oregon. A builder needs to request an EPS before construction begins. Then, he can work with an ETO-trained third-party verifier who calculates the EPS by analyzing the home's features and construction techniques. At completion, the home must pass a blower door test.

According to ETO, more than 2,000 new homes have received an EPS since 2009, when the Oregon Legislature first approved the idea of a "miles-per-gallon" sticker for home energy use. Roughly 20 percent of new residential construction in 2011, 814 homes, received EPS ratings, and this year is on track to exceed last year.

Homebuyers like the EPS rating system because it's an easy way to compare new homes based on energy efficiency. The EPS also provides estimated average utility bills on a monthly and yearly basis that potential homeowners can plug into their household budgets. Here's an example of a sample EPS certificate.

In these difficult economic times, both custom and production builders are using EPS as part of their marketing strategy because it helps them distinguish their product from their competitors. Homebuilders with experience using the EPS rating system are confident that their homes will perform as rated by providing guarantees to homeowners that their utility bills will not exceed the EPS energy cost estimates.

For more information, contact Gabrielle Schiffer at gabrielle.m.schiffer@state.or.us or 503-373-7418.


Summary of enforcement cases presented
to the Electrical & Elevator Board

Summary report: These cases were resolved by the division's enforcement section without going to a contested case hearing. No action was required by the Electrical and Elevator Board.

Electrical & Elevator License Suspensions and Revocations


Published by the State of Oregon Building Codes Division.
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