News Updates - August 9, 2012
Code interpretation: Fire alarm design in health
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.
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
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 report
Several stakeholder groups and members of the public provided
testimony at the public meeting. Invited testimony included representatives
Electrical Contractors of Oregon
Electrical Contractors Association
Electrical Manufacturers Association
Home Builders Association
Office State Fire Marshal
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
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 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or Dennis Clements, chief electrical inspector, at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary of enforcement cases presented
to the Electrical & Elevator Board
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.
Elevator License Suspensions and Revocations