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FEMA height and electrical equiment.,

Posted By: gfretwell

FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/18/18 01:40 AM

Same 4 plex on the beach. I was over there today with the electrician and we were talking about the FEMA flood height. For you beach guys, what equipment is allowed to be below the flood elevation? (16.5' above grade here)
They are still waiting for a ruling from Ft Myers Beach. He thinks the last time they gave him an opinion, the service disconnect was OK at grade but all of the distribution panels needed to be above "flood". They allowed one switch for lighting but the luminaires needed to be above flood. No receptacles at grade. I am not sure what to do about 210.52(G)(1)
The pool equipment is at grade.

OTOH the next island over does not seem to have any of these rules.

The NEC really seems to be somewhat silent about this. I suppose you could look at 682 but then it looks like we would be looking for a 6r Service Disconnect.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/18/18 12:26 PM


Back when I was in the beach town, after Sandy hit it was.....

BFE plus the local ord. of 2' added was the 'flood zone'.. The utility required the meter at 5' above grade, and all distribution had to be at BFE plus 2'. (Made it really hard for a meter/main combo.)

Receptacles and switching/lighting within the 'flood zone' were allowed, but it had to be PVC conduit to facilitate 'future replacement'.

During my 11/2 years there, the 'rules' changed . Day one was 'nothing below BFE', so you had some utility meters at 16' above dirt. The POCO was livid, and I had no choice but tell them to contact DCA, who made the ruling. After a few weeks, it change to meter at 5', but it was chaos. Glad I'm out of there.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/18/18 05:42 PM

The house next door has the meter at 11', the old elevation there. It looks silly and I bet the PoCo was real happy when the digital meter (remote read) was installed.
It appears they have made an exception for the utility owned stuff now so the gutter and the meters will be installed at grade. We are still waiting for an answer to the question about the panels. My guess is they will allow a grade level service disconnect and then pipe in the main feeders to to each unit.
Since this is that shady installation we talked about before (calling a 4 plex a duplex) I suggested they still rough in 2 extra meter cans and feed the feeders to the 2 extra units through there. I am sure they are not tricking anyone anyway. They should at least pipe in the extra units before the drywall goes up.
This gets sillier every time I look at it. The duplex is up and down, not side by side (not one on each floor)
That does not even pass the laugh test when you look at the floor plan. There is no wall or door between the units on each floor and they share the only set of steps.
I bet they get spiked before they ever get to CO. My wife is so frustrated with this deception she is about to quit.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/18/18 07:23 PM


I had an instance where the JCP&L meter lady insisted that the home owners/contractors build a platform to provide utility access to the meter. DCA said "NO WAY", tell her to install a smart meter (remote read). They went back and forth, and DCA won the battle.

I also had new meter stacks installed on structures before they were elevated (to restore service) and it was interesting when the structure was raised. Heck, one I know of was raised with the service still connected.

As I said, I'm happy to be out of there.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/19/18 12:15 AM

They are running into that "Platform" thing with the AC condensers that also have to be >16.6 ft.
I can't imagine how anyone will replace one without a crane since they are bolted to the side of the building and weigh 280 pounds. I guess they can still work on them from the platform tho.
Sometimes the code just gets silly.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/20/18 12:49 PM


Yes, I forgot to include AC condensers in the elevation thing. Yes they are raised to BFE+ on platforms, that is the responsibility of the Mechanical/Building/Plumbing guys. Yes, it was a pain to inspect the electrical.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/30/18 05:38 PM

I talked to the county inspector and it only made things more confusing.
He says "service equipment" (meters and disconnects) are allowed at grade. OK that makes sense. In the garage, no equipment can be below grade including switches for the lights. They will have to use battery operated remote switches. I even understand that somewhat.
Then it gets weird. In the elevator lobby/stair well at grade he said you use normal rules. (switches and receptacles placed by 210).

I did a little looking myself and the guiding rules seem to be article 422 of the ICC residential building code (adopted by Florida as the FBC).
That even gets weirder.
First they say
Electrical systems...shall be located at or above the elevation required <FEMA>

then in exceptions they say

Exception: Locating electrical systems, equipment and components; heating, ventilating, air conditioning; plumbing appliances and plumbing fixtures; duct systems; and other service equipment is permitted below the elevation required in Section R322.2 or R322.3 provided that they are designed and installed to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components and to resist hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and stresses, including the effects of buoyancy, during the occurrence of flooding to the design flood elevation in accordance with ASCE 24. Electrical wiring systems are permitted to be located below the required elevation provided that they conform to the provisions of the electrical part of this code for wet locations.
R322.1.7Protection of water supply and sanitary sewage systems.

They start out describing NEMA 6 equipment and then end by making it sound like anything 3R will work.
I can see why people are just making up the rules as they go along.
Our fear now is we know the county inspector is going to retire at the end of next month and I doubt they will be at final by then.
The open question is who will do the final and does he have the same interpretation of the rules. Add to that the city of Ft Myers Beach is taking over the process and we may be dealing with a whole different building department.
Ah the joys of beach building wink
Posted By: chris_jackson

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/28/20 10:49 AM

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Posted By: HotLine1

Re: FEMA height and electrical equiment., - 04/29/20 03:18 PM


Best advice after checking the opinions here is to contact and talk to your local AHJs, and POCOs.

Stay safe
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