The Top 10 Questions About NFPA 110 Compliance
Power outages can mean more than a temporary blackout. For critical commercial facilities, a power outage without a backup generator can result in the loss of revenue and even put lives in danger.
The standard for emergency power and standby systems is The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 110, which was established to create a regulated environment for generator functions and reduce safety risks. The rules cover a lot of ground: eight chapters, three annexes and dozens of supplementary materials. But as the standard that all commercial generator owners must abide by, these are regulations you have to know.
Electro-Motion prides itself by having certified technicians who understand the ins and outs of NFPA 110 compliance. To help you understand your obligations—and the consequences of non-compliance—here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get:
1. Is NFPA 110 compliance a legal requirement?
Yes. Proper installation according to the NFPA 110 code reduces fire risks and ensures reliable, steady performance through proper sizing for the facility. In facilities where human lives would be at risk due to power loss, such as a hospital, the NFPA 110 is a legally enforceable set of installation requirements.
2. How many times does my generator need to be tested to be NFPA 110 compliant?
12 times a year. NFPA 99(12), Sec. 6.4. 4.1. 1.4(A), however, requires that generator sets be tested 12 times a year, with testing intervals of not less than 20 days nor more than 40 days.
3. What is the latest version of NFPA 110?
NFPA 110 is revised every three years.
The most current version is NFPA 110-2020. However, many local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) still recognize NFPA 110-2019, or in some cases earlier versions.
4. What do the NFPA 110 codes include?
Here are some of the most important topics covered by NFPA 110:
- Proper sizing based on generator ratings for the level, class and type of power supply needed
- Fuel storage requirements based on type to prevent unnecessary fire risks
- Generator protection against emergency situations that likely triggered the power loss in the first place, such as flooding, fire, and earthquake damage to the structure
- The installation and use of transfer switches to control which parts of a facility receive power from the backup system
- Installation of the generator and all related equipment, including equipment to monitor generator activity
- Long-term maintenance and routine testing requirements to ensure the generator is still operating according to the standard.
5. What are the fines and penalties for non-compliance with NFPA 110?
The NFPA creates the rules but does not enforce them. Instead, they are enforced by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) of your area, such as a building code enforcement office. Therefore, the penalties can include whatever enforcement tools the AHJ has at their disposal, including fines, loss of permits, and even referral for criminal investigation.
6. How often will my business be inspected for NFPA 110 compliance?
At least once per year. At the time of inspection, you will also be asked to produce documentation like a BAAQMD permit, a load test report, and proper ATS documentation.
7. How long should a generator run for in NFPA 110 compliance test?
30 minutes. During testing, a generator should operate under available load for a minimum of thirty minutes.
8. How long should it take for an emergency power system to switch on?
Emergency Power Systems are required to provide power within 10 seconds to all life safety systems such as egress lighting, smoke evacuation, fire alarm systems, and elevators.
9. Is it expensive to stay NFPA 110 compliant?
As we like to say, it’s more expensive to be non-compliant. The biggest risk for companies with non-compliant commercial generators is the liability you assume should the power go off and the generator not turn on. What’s the cost of your business going down for several hours? For several days? Will lives be put at risk if the power goes off?
10. What’s the easiest way to stay compliant with NFPA 110?
Call Electro-Motion at 650-321-6169 or click here to schedule a complementary consultation. We’ll set you up with a maintenance plan that includes inspections, load bank testing, routine automatic transfer switch maintenance, fuel testing and tank inspection, insulation resistance testing, and more.
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