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Author Topic: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?  (Read 3934 times)

Stephen Swaffer

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Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« on: September 18, 2016, 09:42:59 pm »

So my church rented the local fairgrounds this weekend to hold a carnival for the kids-mainly consisting of inflatable toys (37' slide anyone?).  I set up some background music-but being the electrician on site was helping find enough circuits for all of the blowers.  I came across this terrific piece of work-I am used to seeing these horror stories in here and in print but rarely in person.  This should have been inspected.  The scariest thing is the last time this would have been used was for the county fair-and this is immediatly adkacent to the "midway" area-so lots of people including kids around.  What the picture does not show is that I accessed the inside of this tap box to take this picture without any tools.  The main breaker next to it was at least shut off.  For the little bit of wiring here the number of code violations is pretty high.  Obviously, I will be having a conversation with the AHJ and possibly a member of the fair board-but for learning purposes here, how many violations can you find?  There are a few I suspect-but have yet to dig out the code book to verify, but I plan to!
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Steve Swaffer

Erik Jerde

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 12:34:41 am »

So my church rented the local fairgrounds this weekend to hold a carnival for the kids-mainly consisting of inflatable toys (37' slide anyone?).  I set up some background music-but being the electrician on site was helping find enough circuits for all of the blowers.  I came across this terrific piece of work-I am used to seeing these horror stories in here and in print but rarely in person.  This should have been inspected.  The scariest thing is the last time this would have been used was for the county fair-and this is immediatly adkacent to the "midway" area-so lots of people including kids around.  What the picture does not show is that I accessed the inside of this tap box to take this picture without any tools.  The main breaker next to it was at least shut off.  For the little bit of wiring here the number of code violations is pretty high.  Obviously, I will be having a conversation with the AHJ and possibly a member of the fair board-but for learning purposes here, how many violations can you find?  There are a few I suspect-but have yet to dig out the code book to verify, but I plan to!

Yeah, that's an interesting setup.  What was the upstream OCPD rating?  It looks like post-tap there may also be OCPD's in those boxes.  What are they rated at?  It could be that the taps are effectively protected by appropriately sized OCPDs downstream.  I'm not sure if that's up to code but it may effectively be safe.  It's a pretty stupid setup when a proper panel would get the job done better and safer.  The tool-free access is the biggest problem I see as-is.  Now if you get some ride operator tying in hot with a long cable lacking an OCPD then it gets a lot more dangerous.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 08:22:48 am »

So my church rented the local fairgrounds this weekend to hold a carnival for the kids-mainly consisting of inflatable toys (37' slide anyone?).  I set up some background music-but being the electrician on site was helping find enough circuits for all of the blowers.  I came across this terrific piece of work-I am used to seeing these horror stories in here and in print but rarely in person.  This should have been inspected.  The scariest thing is the last time this would have been used was for the county fair-and this is immediatly adkacent to the "midway" area-so lots of people including kids around.  What the picture does not show is that I accessed the inside of this tap box to take this picture without any tools.  The main breaker next to it was at least shut off.  For the little bit of wiring here the number of code violations is pretty high.  Obviously, I will be having a conversation with the AHJ and possibly a member of the fair board-but for learning purposes here, how many violations can you find?  There are a few I suspect-but have yet to dig out the code book to verify, but I plan to!
- Ground is fed from?
- multiple neutral wires under a screw
- no branch OCPD at all - should be a load center
- unplugged knockout hole
- conduit to lower boxes at an angle so the fittings probably don't seal against water
- no GFI for the visible receptacle, so probably none of them are GFCI
- no weather cover for receptacle
- receptacle boxes are indoor style, not rated for outdoor use
- as you mentioned, boxes aren't locked

I wonder how much time they spent building this monstrosity. Doing it right couldn't have been much more work or money.



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Art Welter

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 11:31:07 am »

I wonder how much time they spent building this monstrosity. Doing it right couldn't have been much more work or money.
TJ,
Looks to me like the three large wires were put in to the box by a "real" electrician, when funding was cut after "phase one". Later, somebody with some electrical knowledge, like an underpaid, overworked maintenance man, was told to "get this box ready before fair season starts".

Another example when "good enough" probably ain't.

Art
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 11:54:53 am »

So my church rented the local fairgrounds this weekend to hold a carnival for the kids-mainly consisting of inflatable toys (37' slide anyone?). 

That's just crazy dangerous. I saw another public access issue at the big RV show in Hershey, PA last year. They had at least a dozen large generators on the side road with 4/0 cam-loc cables feeding row after row of RVs parked on the lot. They had placed a bunch of cam-loc breakout boxes on the parking lot to cross-feed more distro cables, but there were no covers or plugs on the live cam-lock receptacles. And these break-out boxes were sitting right on the curb where a kid walking by could easily poke a finger into the cam-loc hole while standing on the dirt. I talked to one of the promoters of the show, and they said it had always been done that way so why was I worried about it. Why indeed???

Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 12:42:33 pm »

Upstream OCPD is 200 amp.  I agree that the OCPD and the tap box were probably profesionally done.  There are fuses in the disconnects. OPCD needs to be right-but running cords in the open with plenty of adult supervision I figured a problem would be noticeable pretty quick so I didn't investigate too far.  Lack of GFCI's and tool less access were far more of a concern to me.

I thought the use of NM connectors to connect the PVC conduit to the box was... creative?

I think the equipment grounding conductors going to the switches-or to any load center are to be sized according to the upstream OCPD so they should be #6.
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Steve Swaffer

Ray Aberle

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 12:50:51 pm »

The receptacle you can see is a 15A version. ASSuming that the breaker protecting it (is actually there, of course) is a 20A breaker, a user could pull enough through the receptacle to destroy it/start a fire, prior to that breaker tripping. (The reason that you can use 15A outlets in a house, for example, is because it's presumed you'll be spreading the load out over different outlets, and not plugging 20A worth of load into ONE spot.) Since this is the only receptacle on that circuit breaker, it would be prudent to use a 20A rated receptacle.

-Ray
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Bill Koonce

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2016, 12:28:25 am »

What's inside that big box on the right?

If this is the only thing coming from the meter, and is for the entire fairground, I'd be worried and looking for generator rentals.  But this looks like a typical "idiot box" that's made available to carny folk who don't know or care about doing things correctly.  I'll bet that more than a few traveling circuses have used automotive jumper cable-style clamps to get power out of that box.  I've seen it before.  I'd still be looking for a generator to keep my audio gear separated.

Remember to wear rubber soles and keep your left hand in your pocket...
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2016, 07:09:23 pm »

Remember to wear rubber soles and keep your left hand in your pocket...

I'm left handed. If I did that, I'd die.
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Brian Jojade

Bill Koonce

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2016, 09:42:33 pm »

I'm left handed. If I did that, I'd die.
My high school electronics teacher who burned that saying into my mind would have said "put your right hand in your pocket then."  I never was convinced that any of it was that effective myself.
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