According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 28,300 electrical residential building fires annually lead to 360 deaths and $995 million in direct property loss. Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) can help curb these losses.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) announced it is collaborating with UL to offer a free online training course designed to educate electrical professionals on safe and effective ways to install and troubleshoot issues with AFCIs.

John Marcario, industry director at NEMA and a member of NEMA’s AFCI Educational Task Force, said the collaboration was created for anyone who installs electrical systems in residences—whether they are single, multifamily or apartment buildings—where AFCIs are a National Electrical Code (NEC) requirement.

The course will help electrical professionals complete trouble-free installation of AFCIs and other residential branch-circuit components and provide expert advice on finding and fixing electrical system problems that may cause AFCIs to trip.
“AFCIs are a proven fire-prevention technology that can save lives and reduce property damage caused by electrical fires in the home,” Marcario said. “It’s our hope that, through this training course, electrical professionals will be able to provide their customers the maximum fire-prevention benefit of AFCI technology without experiencing unwanted tripping.”

Jake West, senior engineer at UL, added that proper installation of AFCIs and the ability to troubleshoot potential issues could result in fewer call-backs and more profit for contractors.

“Perhaps most importantly, electrical professionals will have the peace of mind knowing they played a key role in improving the electrical safety of the homes they wire. Furthermore, their customers will be able to rest easy, confident that their home is protected by the most advanced fire prevention technology available,” West said.

AFCIs have been an NEC requirement since 2002 and were previously required to be installed during new home construction to protect the circuits that power bedrooms. The 2008 and 2011 versions of the NEC expanded the requirement to include dining rooms, sun rooms, living rooms and other gathering areas in the home. Electrical safety experts believe expanding AFCI use could have a dramatic effect on reducing the number of electrical fires and damage they cause annually.

Marcario added that the goal of saving lives and reducing property damage caused by electrical fires can be achieved when AFCI manufacturers and installers of AFCIs work together. According to NEMA, manufacturers need to design AFCI circuit breakers that will detect and interrupt low-level arcs while not tripping unnecessarily, but installers have to play a role as well by realizing the benefits of the technology and taking steps to ensure proper operation.

More information about the training program and how to register for it is available at www.UL.com/AFCIsafety.