What is the fireman’s switch emergency disconnect requirement for residential electrical service?

Sunday, November 7, 2021

It’s informally called a fireman’s switch, but referred to in the National Electrical Code (NEC 230.85) as an emergency disconnect. They have been required for commerical building for quite a while, but the 2020 edition of the NEC made it mandatory for new construction and the replacement or relocation of existing electrical panels in one- and two-family homes. 

    The intention is to allow firemen to quickly shut off the power before entering the house. Some residences and all mobile homes already have an outside service disconnect. But many have the service panel in the garage, hallway, or bedroom. So a fireman has to pull the meter assembly out of the box to shut off all power to the house.

    The service disconnect has always been required to be marked as MAIN DISCONNECT, but the new code specifies an EMERGENCY DISCONNECT, MAIN DISCONNECT label, and it must be at a “readily accessible outdoor location."

    Although this new requirement was added to the 2020 edition of the NEC, it may not be required by your local building department yet. New editions of the NEC appear every three years, but must be formally adopted by the local governmen jurisdiction. Often it’s several years before that happens. For more on this, see our article Is the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) the standard used for the electrical system of new homes?

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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