Guys, as a response to Don's "Water Pipe Bonding" I was asked to finish the story on the gas pipe. Figuring you guys may run into this, lemme post it as it's own section rather than adding to one already getting lengthy.
In the mid 90's, I was working at a local prison. Having just about taken myself out of the daily contractor/etc. game except for teaching the apprentices.
I was teaching grounding and bonding, going over the old way of using the gas pipe for an electrode and how that was no longer allowed because of outside plastics, workers being shocked, etc.. I also went over how the gas pipe still had to be bonded to prevent a fault lying on the pipe like something deadly.
A student spoke up, "Then why does (XYZ) county require me to isolate the gas pipe" "Isolate, says I, you've misunderstood" Well at break time the student goes to his vehicle and retrieves a rejection that said "Gas pipe bonded to electrical equipment, required to be isolated". I didn't know whether to hit the floor or the roof. I told the student I would look into it, and copied his rejection, covering over his name.
The next morning I call and talk to the Code Official for that county. You have an inspector who has rejected for not isolating a gas pipe, ya might need to fix that. Why, says the CO, that's what I told 'em to do?
This guy had read an article and decided to require complete isolation, what if there's a spark he said, it may blow up.
I talked him into letting me fax him some drawings, but the discussion got way to heated, and not from me, I was trying to persuade him in the errors of his ways.
A phone call after the fax was sent got abusive, up with which I will not put. He claimed he knew me, and who I work for, I attempted to explain, I told him who I was, and who I worked for, I also told him my dog wasn't in this fight, but he was making a wrong call, at which point he called me a liar and hung up the phone.
Pretty good thing I worked at a prison and understood the consequences of what I was thinking.
Next call to the State Regulatory agency, got the form, explained to them what had happened. They listened patiently and decided to expedite since according to them, we had "an idiot on the loose"
At that time, Article 250-80 (b) required the bonding of the gas pipe to the electrical service. 250-81 (I think) would not allow you to use the gas pipe as an electrode, and the fellow had gotten totally confused. 1999 reference 250-104(b)and 250-52(a) is the confuser, sorry, no 2002 references.
The county in question had required, apparently for some time, the electrician to completely isolate the gas pipe from the electrical service and drive it's own ground rod 'at least 6 ' away from the electrical service'.
What happens if the furnace shorts a conductor on the pipe? What happens if a wire rubs its way through over the years? If there is 20 ohms on the rod 120/20 = 6 amps worth of fault so the first one to touch it and any grounded object DIES!!!!!!
I explained this to the State, along with some help from (since I don't have permission to use anyones name here) some guy from Florida who owns his own Code Academy (TH), and an engineer from California who writes articles for Electrical Contractor magazine (WCS). The State not only reversed, but took a pretty well earned slap at the guy also.
What is the worst problem? I found out in this that the inspector is not responsible for his decisions.
That's right, in most states, the inspector can tell you what to do, as an official of the regulatory agency, but he cannot be sued in criminal or civil court for requiring you to do something unsafe. Hundreds of houses were wired this way before a stop was put to it. Who gets sued if someone dies in the houses no one went back to fix? The electrical master because he should have known better than to listen to the inspector.
That's what I'd like to know, how is it in your State? Do you know how to fight an inspector who is wrong? What would you have done in this situation, with a bunch of houses we can't get occupancy permits for if we stop to fight? Truth now