Building Compliance for "Abandoned Cable" as defined in the
As of 2002 the National Electric Code (NEC) requires that all abandoned copper and fiber cable be removed. While there are numerous estimates as to the amount of abandoned cable in existing building, it is generally concluded that many billions of feet of this cable exist.
2002 revision of the National Electric Code
One intent of the the National Electric Code (NEC) is to ensure the safety of life, health, and property. The next revision of the NEC is scheduled for 2008 and there is little doubt that requirements in this area will likely become more stringent rather than less. The code has as its Secretarita the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and in 2002 a new provision was inserter which requires the removal of abandoned cable. This cable abatement requirement was a significant change to the requirements.
Fortunately, all unused cable need not be considered "abandoned". Unused cable that is terminated at both ends and well identified for future use can be exempted from the removal requirements (see paragraphs 800.2 and 770.2 of the 2002 document).
Interestingly, the NEC is not law. The only way any aspects of the code become law is through inclusion in local building or fire codes. Once adpted, their inforcement becomes the responsibility of local agencies. As a result, to determine the effects upon your business or building you must carefully analyze local codes and enforcement practices. It has been our observation that many agencies tend to not disturb the status quo until permits are pulled for changes to an existing building. However, it will likely take only one significant disaster enhanced by abandoned cable to make their enforcement more proactive. The billions of feet of abandoned cable present in the ceilings and risers present a significant "fire load". Additionally much of the insulation is made of PVC, which is well known to break-down with age.
Once a cable abatement issue has been identified in a building the question of liability rears its head. The abandoned cable is likely to have been put in place over the years by a variety of tenants and good records may not be available. In the past it was not unusual to see redundant cable put in place as an alternative to figuring out the rats nest already existing. There is not much to be done about past installations, unless provisions were included in the lease, it will likely become the responsibility of the building ownes. However, going forward, it will be important to legally bind tenants to comply with strict standards for the installation, documentation, and labeling of cables.
Adapticom advises that a preliminary survey be done of any buildings where abandoned cable may be an issue. Unusued but potentially usable wires and cabling can be properly tagged and documented, possibly avoiding future liability. An assessment can then be made regarding what cable must be removed and during what time frame.
For more information on Abandoned Cable Abatement, please see our
"Abandoned Wire and Cable Removal - Cable Abatement"
page or our
page with an index of abandoned cable related sites:
"Abandoned Cable Index"
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