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Author Topic: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?  (Read 3911 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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Chris Hindle

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 01:54:43 am »

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.
Ya, it kinda is.
My Dad taught me that when I was 10 or 11, and showing a habit of digging into things i should probably not be "playing" with.
Reason being if both hands are in the box, there is a very real chance that an "accident" will send the current straight through the chest. (The heart is in the middle, but you already knew that)
With that path removed, best loop is down one side of the body, assuming your feet are closer to a ground potetial.
Not a guarantee, but at least a fighting chance.

Chris. Bit more than once, but still "vertical".
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Bill Koonce

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2016, 02:48:22 am »

Ya, it kinda is.
My Dad taught me that when I was 10 or 11, and showing a habit of digging into things i should probably not be "playing" with.
Reason being if both hands are in the box, there is a very real chance that an "accident" will send the current straight through the chest. (The heart is in the middle, but you already knew that)
With that path removed, best loop is down one side of the body, assuming your feet are closer to a ground potetial.
Not a guarantee, but at least a fighting chance.
I guess it's a good simple rule for the novice.  I haven't seen any working electricians do it though.  Didn't give it much thought as most of the things I'd work on could be unplugged (a whole 'nuther protocol for dealing with energized caps) and can't solder one-handed.  Now that I'm old, less bold and have money in the bank, I hire a licensed electrician for anything that involves live wires.  My insurance company prefers it that way too.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2016, 11:40:02 am »

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.

Of course, the idea is that the worst possible type of shock is hand-to-hand since your heart is right in the middle of your body and could go into fibrillation. Most of the time we're pretty well insulated from the ground from our shoes, but that's still no excuse for grabbing onto a live wire with even one hand. However, if you do make momentary contact with one hand there's much less chance of a severe shock and possible electrocution.

Another thing an old electrician once taught me is to brush your knuckles or back of your hand across any wire you're already "sure" is dead. You never put the palm of your hand or fingertips on any "dead" conductor or even a metal ladder. That's because if there's something crazy that  that creates an electrified object, touching it with your fingers will cause your hand to clamp down on it, and you may not be able to let go. The reason for this is that you have more muscles in your hand that make a fist than open it up. So if you brush your knuckles on something "hot" your hand will jump away from it, not clamp down on it. Way safer that way.

Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2016, 10:45:42 pm »

I guess it's a good simple rule for the novice.  I haven't seen any working electricians do it though.  Didn't give it much thought as most of the things I'd work on could be unplugged (a whole 'nuther protocol for dealing with energized caps) and can't solder one-handed.  Now that I'm old, less bold and have money in the bank, I hire a licensed electrician for anything that involves live wires.  My insurance company prefers it that way too.

You may not catch me with my hand actually in my pocket-but you will rarely catch me touching a grounded object with my free hand-and not wanting people in my "personal space" while I am working in a panel is not just a quirk-there are very good reaons for it.

For that matter, how often do you actually have to actually place bare skin on something that could be energized?  If you are going to be creative in getting things done (as many people obviously are-for better of for worse), why not be creative in avoiding touch potential hazards?  I may not use OSHA approved insulated gloves if something should be de-energized-but I almost always have a pair of close fitting thin leather drivers gloves at hand.  For power wire sizes-#14 and larger-with practice you can do almost anything with them on that you can bare handed-and less chance of cuts and scrapes as a bonus.
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Steve Swaffer

Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2017, 11:55:19 pm »

So I just "advanced" the power situation here-same event again this year, different rides and a different location for our church service.  I had reported this problem to the local AHJ-wasn't worried about an immediate resolution, but even after the county fair has used the grounds this year there has been no change to the above listed issue.

In addition, the power for where we are having our service is questionable to say the least.  GFCI receptacles times 2.  One run with a roughly 6 foot pigtail of NM into a PVC outdoor box-strain relief is e-tape to a short piece of PVC conduit.  The other is roughly 6 ft of metal clad stuffed into a blue nail on new construction box with a standard wall plate (both laying on a concrete stage about 3 feet in from the edge of a roof-at best a damp location certainly not dry!).  This is obviously a new install-and should have been inspected.

Do I rock the boat?  I could escalate to the State Fire Marshal as Iowa mandates that if there is no local inspection to at least the minimum the state requires, the state will take over.  There was obviously no valid inspection prior to running carnival rides-part of the state requirement.  On the other hand, I really don't want to create issues and not be allowed to rent the property again.  I'm sure if they refused because we made a valid safety issue we could win a lawsuit-but this is a small town so winning like that may not really be winning-at least not for a church.  I get along pretty well with the inspector-maybe ask him if he is waiting for a fatality before taking action?  Or just let it go and mind my own business?
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Steve Swaffer

Lyle Williams

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2017, 07:55:21 am »

Can you present the owner with details/costs to make the facility code compliant?

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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2017, 08:19:13 am »

Can you present the owner with details/costs to make the facility code compliant?
Maybe a business opportunity for you Steve?  "You know, this thing really is dangerous. There was a recent accident at the Kansas fair where a kid died. I would really feel terrible if that happened here. I could fix this for $xxx."  I agree that being a jerk isn't a good long-term strategy in a small town where everybody knows everybody.  Maybe telling the story of the fair accident in Kansas would bring some good from that tragedy and prevent it from happening in your town.

http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,163830.0.html
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2017, 09:31:43 am »

Generator = problem solved.  At some point you just have to limit your liability.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2017, 04:18:04 pm »

Can you present the owner with details/costs to make the facility code compliant?

... not just as a business opportunity.  I know that managers hate having staff walk in with unanalysed problems.  Staff should bring problems to managers with potential solutions listed.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2017, 02:34:03 am »

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

The contacts inside a 15 amp plug and a 20 amp outlet are the same size.  The only difference is that the 20 amp plug rotates one of the spades 90 degrees.  This is useful when you have something that NEEDS a 20 amp draw, it prevents you from plugging it into a 15 amp circuit.
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Brian Jojade

Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Fairgrounds accident waiting to happen?
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2017, 03:07:12 am »

The contacts inside a 15 amp plug and a 20 amp outlet are the same size.  The only difference is that the 20 amp plug rotates one of the spades 90 degrees.  This is useful when you have something that NEEDS a 20 amp draw, it prevents you from plugging it into a 15 amp circuit.

To be honest the cabling feeding the plug could also only be rated for 15A regardless of if the amp is rated for 15/20A.
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