Earlier this month, controversy broke out during hearings of the Alabama Energy and Residential Codes Board over whether the state should require builders to install arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) in new homes (see: "Alabama Builders Push Back on Arc-Fault Requirement," Coastal Contractor 9/8/15). This week, the Montgomery Advertiser reports that Alabama officials have elected to retain the requirement for AFCIs for some residential circuits (see: "Board approves AFCI requirement, but is it enough?" by Andrew J. Yawn). However, the rooms that are required to have AFCI-protected circuits may vary, depending on which version of the National Electrical Code (NEC) the local authorities are enforcing.
Officials had originally deleted any reference to AFCIs from the next Alabama code. But after protests from fire officials and testimony at a public hearing, the board reversed course and included language that requires the devices in the code text. Reported the Advertiser: "While it doesn’t specifically mention AFCIs, it says homes must be built following the 2008 NFPA 70, the 2008 National Electric Code or any subsequent editions. The NEC is updated every three years and every version included — 2008, 2011, 2014 — requires AFCIs."
"Although each NEC requires AFCIs, the 2008 NEC does not require an AFCI in the kitchen or the laundry room," the paper noted. "The 2014 NEC added requirements for those rooms, but Home Builders Association Regional Affairs Director Jason Reid said the ability to choose is what the more rural areas need... Should the code pass, AFCIs will be required in homes. How many will be put in is apparently a choice for local government to make."