Thomas A. Domitrovich
Thomas A. Domitrovich is a national application engineer with Eaton Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has nineteen years of experience as an electrical engineer and is a LEED accredited professional. Thomas is active in various trade organizations on various levels including the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Thomas is involved with and chairs various committees for NEMA and IEEE and is an alternate member on NFPA 73. He is very active in the state-by-state adoption process of NFPA 70, working closely with review committees and other key organizations in this effort.
Tamper-resistant receptacles work every day to protect our future — those little bundles of joy who at times become intrigued by those tiny slots in walls that seem to demand the insertion of just about any other object that may seem to fit. TRRs are a direct response to statistics of children who tried to do just that and ended up in the hospital.
A Journey Back to Basics with Receptacles
If there was ever a list of workhorse components in the electrical industry that are heavily used, sometimes abused, and called upon to perform over and over again safely and reliably, I would have to say that 15-A and 20-A receptacle devices rank high on that list.
AFCIs in Our States — A Standards Perspective
The story of the arc-fault circuit interrupter is an interesting one as it is technical in nature, wrapped in controversy, fueled by passion, and delivers a positive electrical safety impact to the electrical industry. I have read many different articles on this topic and for some time have noted issues with technical details. This article will provide a technical review of the AFCI technology from a standards perspective. You will see how the attempt to simplify a technical message has actually lead us to take liberties that are not technically accurate but help to convey a basic understanding. I will attempt to illustrate what the UL standard requires for a few types of AFCIs to cut through the lingo that has been used to describe the functionality of an AFCI.
Taking a Bite Out of Arc Flash
Arc flash has and continues to be an issue for our industry. All you need to do is speak with someone who has survived an arc flash event or look at the statistics to understand the magnitude of impact these events have on not only that person who may have survived but also on everyone else either directly or indirectly involved; at work and at home. This is a problem in our industry that happens all too often but I firmly believe that these events can and should be things of the past. We have the technology and work practice knowledge to take a bite out of the statistics of arc flash, and NEC 2014 is making great strides in the right direction.
Shock and Awe
Recognizing shock hazards can be difficult to the untrained or inexperienced eye on job sites and especially areas / facilities that have experienced storm damage. An electrocution is the result of coming in contact with a lethal amount current. Shock protection comes in many forms with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) being that last line of defense of protection; as long as you are lucky enough that this type of protection has been installed and installed correctly. There are many ways to stay safe, we simply need to train our eyes and implement the correct procedures and tools to facilitate it.
2013 Your New year Electrical Safety Checklist
It’s a new year and a great time to get your head in the safety game. The New Year is a great trigger to prompt safety meetings and to create the dialog to understand your successes and failures and to chart the safety course for the New Year. Yes, the New Year can be a trigger for this type of activity as triggers for safety actions are not new as evidenced by the changing of the clocks initiating the replacing of batteries in smoke alarms. It is unfortunate that the New Year has become associated with lost causes; sort of like the resolution to lose those unwanted pounds found over the holidays. Then again, it could be that the New Year just hasn’t met electrical safety yet, so let’s make the introductions and change the previous association to one of success and saving lives.
Grain Elevator Safety
What’s tall, holds some dusty stuff, and at times can go boom? You guessed it, grain elevators. This just may be a topic you don’t hear discussed very often, yet there are statistics associated with these structures that may surprise you. Headlines such as "Three More Victims Found after Explosion at Kansas Grain Facility . . .” or "2 Hurt in Grain Elevator Explosion in Tracy, Minn. . .” are very concerning and found all too often. A simple Google search for "grain elevator explosion” brings to light the urgency of safety in these types of facilities. Grain elevators have been around for quite some time and will be around for years to come as they are critical not only to many farmers across this country but also to this country’s economy.
The Slash-Rated Breaker and Shared Neutral Applications
Think back one or maybe more years ago when you had to assemble that latest purchase in front of the Christmas tree; picture the moment, if ever, you decided to open the assembly instructions and read them. It could have been before you got started — as you were drinking your coffee looking at the box and all of the parts. Or perhaps it was half way through when you couldn’t figure out how two parts went together. If you’re anything like me, it was when you were all done and you had a handful of parts left over. When it comes to electrical products, no matter how simple or how many times you’ve installed them, reading the labels on the products and the instructions can go a long way for electrical safety. Familiarity can indeed breed contempt in this arena. Today we’ll focus on slash-rated and non-slash-rated breakers and their applications.
Going to Basics, Maximum Fault Current
One of the most basic calculations for any power system, and arguably the least understood and most misrepresented, is the calculation of available fault current. The effort of calculating fault currents flexes the basics of math and engineering. This article is not going to get into the details of the calculation; instead, we’ll have a high-level discussion to provide a general understanding of how that number is obtained.
Safety Something Earned
One could argue that due to the technologies on the market, arc flash and other electrical life-threatening events should be rare occasions. But electrical safety is more than just applying a product or sitting through a training class; it’s a regiment of training and procedures implemented in combination with technology that saves lives. There’s no silver bullet for safety. Just like respect, and I don’t mean the respect we should give electricity, safety is earned. Simply attending class and punching your ticket, so to speak, is not enough.
It’s eight o’clock at night and you find yourself standing in front of energized equipment because you were called about an unplanned inspection and they needed it done right away. You realize you are going to be in and around energized equipment. It’s late. You didn’t plan on being here, and what is being asked of you seems to be quite simple.
Arc Flash — A Survivor’s Perspective
Many of us have been raised to believe that respect is not given, it is earned — the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want Electricity to earn your respect. The individuals speaking through this article illustrate why, in the case of Electricity, the respect rule that you may have been taught and live by needs an exception — that exception is Electricity. A large amount of energy reached out and touched the two individuals who are about to tell you their stories.
Silos of Safety — Are We Living in the Box?
Living in a silo can limit your success and the success of safety in our industry — the activity of breaking down silos and building healthy bridges can elevate and strengthen your safety message. Every year, and pretty much each month, there is a state somewhere that is either reviewing or actively meeting to adopt a building code. We in the electrical industry are called to action every now and then in various states that decide adoption of the latest National Electrical Code without amendment is just not an option.
It’s a PV World After All
The harvesting of the sun’s power has increased in popularity to a point where an inspection or installation of a solar application is probably not new to many. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) reports that "Over 124,000 new solar heating, cooling, and solar electric installations were completed in 2010, an increase of 22% compared to the number of systems installed in 2009. The capacity of these installations is 981 MWDC for electricity production and 814 MWTH for thermal heating. The majority of the market share for each solar technology is concentrated in a few states. However, the number of states with a significant number of installations is growing.”
Code Adoption: The Fiscal Impact Statement
Economic pressures come and go and can have devastating impacts to many across the United States; when these pressures cause a state or local jurisdiction to not adopt the latest safety code or amend important provisions out of the latest code, although economic times change, these code changes have a much longer impact. Some states and local areas are hit harder than others. Local jurisdiction code adoption varies from area to area and some have placed more stringent requirements around financial impact analysis for not only new building codes but for any new law or changes to existing laws. This is typically called a fiscal impact analysis or statement and through the code adoption process over the years we have experienced this analysis requirement in various states including Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and others. Preparing a fiscal impact statement could be a difficult task as it is much more than what is added that you have to account for, it should also include what has been removed and possibly design techniques as well.
IAEI West Virginia: Getting Back to the Grass Roots of Safety
New electrical contractors enter our markets every year; these individuals perform work that electrical inspectors ultimately review. Involvement in activities in which these individuals participate, using the opportunities to educate, is getting to the grassroots of electrical safety. The IAEI West Virginia recognized an opportunity to be a leader in safety through involvement with the Skills-USA program in their state.
A Counterfeit Challenge
Our industry is experiencing a challenge that jeopardizes safety: growth of counterfeit products. The act of counterfeiting is not new to our society and can, in fact, be traced to ancient times — the Romans fell victim to fake currency. Back in 1862, the U.S. Government established a national currency due to the counterfeiting problem at that time. Then in 1865, the Secret Service was established to stop the spread of forged money in the United States. Simply take a look at a few bills in your, or preferably a friend’s, wallet.
Safety Program or Fly by the Seat of Your Pants, You Decide
Flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to safety is not a good idea. A good safety plan can add value to your inspection program. Whether you have your own business or work for an organization, you should realize the value of a safety program. In the last few editions of IAEI News, this column focused on the results of a questionnaire where inspectors responded to questions related to conducting the inspection. One of the questions concerned itself with what an inspector takes to the job site and what is carried during the inspection. Although not focused on safety, some of the answers were intriguing.
Inspection Best Practices and More Inspection Perspectives
As members of IAEI, we are among some of the best when it comes to inspectors, something of which we must take advantage when it comes to doing what you do on a daily basis, inspect. We work hard across the country to understand the National Electrical Code and all of its grey areas as well as the application of products in our industry, but sometimes it is that one overlooked detail, like how do you conduct an inspection, that can make all of this knowledge for naught.
Electrical Safety in Existing Homes
Many owners of older homes have experienced "small” renovation projects that have morphed into much larger projects due to identification of safety related issues. Existing structures can present challenges to homeowners, as they make changes over time. Unfortunately, as both homeowners and contractors delve into a project, they find a variety of latent issues — from mold to hidden safety issues. As an expert, it is important to be able to help homeowners navigate and resolve the electrical safety issues they uncover. From the simple to the complex, it is critical to be a part of the solution as a resource, and to provide guidance on how to best address the electrical issues at hand. As we apply new code changes to existing homes, your skills and knowledge are ever so important to safety.
Local Code Adoption Challenges
Keeping up with local codes can pose serious challenges for electricians and inspectors, as some states adopt codes locally — not statewide. In some cases, regulations can vary from county to county, which makes keeping track of local policies difficult at best. This edition of Safety in Our States provides an update on the code adoption process across the United States and a look into how one IAEI chapter is working to increase adoption of the latest updates NFPA has to offer by "Cooking Up Safety” in Alabama.
Flex Your Network & Phone A Friend…Knowing Your Resources
It is impossible to know the answers to all of the questions we are faced with on a regular basis; each job site will have unique and nuanced requirements. That said, it is critical to know appropriate and knowledgeable resources. Early in my career with Eaton Corporation, I worked in a technical application call center that took technical calls on advanced products manufactured by Eaton. I learned a valuable lesson in those years of my career: a sense of ownership is key to success, and you are as knowledgeable as the most knowledgeable resource programmed in your cell phone or stored in your email contact database. How you build that database is most important.
Extreme Indoor Air Quality Issues
While performing inspections, you may be confronted with electrical components that just don’t appear normal and it may be for unexpected reasons. It is important to understand that there is an issue impacting indoor air quality currently being investigated and it may impact electrical metal components. Although extreme, and not quite the norm, some individuals are experiencing that Chinese drywall, sometimes referred to as "contaminated drywall” or "tainted drywall,” has negative impacts on health and on metal products in a home.
Green Goggles Required Beyond This Point
Are you fed up with hearing the word "Green”? Are you ready to put a code proposal in to change the green conductors to yellow? Are you purposely drinking out of Styrofoam cups? Are you driving a vehicle with your catalytic converter removed? Even if all of this fits your position on Green, it is important to understand what it means, why it’s here and how it may impact the next job site we visit and have to inspect. Green is a hot topic and has been for a while. Green topics will probably be as such for some time to come. Whether you are watching HGTV, shopping at a grocery store, or working on projects for a client, you are getting hit with the green message from all angles. It can be overwhelming.
Safety in Our States
We should all be champions of electrical safety and strive to ensure that our customers, our friends and our families do not experience the worst that electricity has to offer. In the words of Wesley Smith of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who almost had a major incident, "Fire is something that you definitely don’t want to have happen to you, and it’s something that could have easily happened (to me). But since I had an experience that made me very aware, I wouldn’t put in another circuit unless it was protected with an arc-fault circuit interrupter.” Mr. Smith is among many others who have experienced an electrical incident. Fortunately, in his case no lives were taken and no valuable property was lost. In this article, we will explore electrical fires and an update of the 2008 NEC adoption process across the United States. The incidents shared here are real and based on actual experiences.
NEC-2008 State-by-State Adoption Process raises the Bar
The 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) revision cycle and the adoption process throughout the United States is exceeding expectations and elevating the importance of electrical safety to new heights. This code cycle has moved beyond the simple adoption of the latest version of the NEC and has taken a step forward...