Massachusetts Leads Nation in Updating the 2020 edition of the NEC

Feb. 7, 2020
The revisions help to improve the safety of first responders in emergency situations.

 The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that the state of Massachusetts’ recent update of the Massachusetts Electrical Code to contain the requirements of the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) (plus MA-specific amendments) represents the first state to implement the latest version of the code.

The NEC continues to be the most widely used code in the built environment in the world, and sets the standard for safe electrical installation and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazards. The 2020 edition of the NEC presents the latest comprehensive regulations for electrical wiring, overcurrent protection, grounding, and installation of equipment, and incorporates recent research, technology advances, case studies, loss experience, and proven best electrical safety practices. Because technology is continuously changing, updates to the NEC are made every three years to provide the necessary level of safety for electrical installations in homes, schools, businesses, and other settings, continuing the code’s over 125-year legacy of reducing the risk of fire and shock hazards inherent to the use of electricity. 

“NFPA strongly applauds the Massachusetts’ Board of Fire Prevention Regulations and the state Electrical Code Advisory Committee for updating and promulgating the state code based on the 2020 edition of the NEC,” said Jeff Sargent, NFPA principal electrical specialist. “The state’s efforts demonstrate a true understanding of the code’s vital public safety mission and its value to the electrical community and the residents of Massachusetts in providing requirements promoting the safe installation and the use of the most recent advancements in electrical systems.” 

While electrical safety has improved considerably over the past 35 years, continued progress is needed to address the fact that every year, electrical-related malfunctions are responsible for an average of 61,000 fires, over $2 billion in direct property losses, and 432 deaths, according to NFPA research. A recent NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute report, Falling Behind on Electrical Safety: Wide Variations in Sate Adoptions of the NEC Reveal Neglect of Electrical Safety,” maintains that many states are falling behind when it comes to keeping up with the latest electrical and safety codes. States also vary widely in when—or if—they implement these updates. Improvements made through the code are an important means for reducing losses; not adhering to the latest edition can lead to serious shortfalls in electrical safety for citizens and a failure to protect first responders and workers from preventable dangers. More than 3,700 public inputs and 1,900 comments went into the revision of the 2020 edition of the code. Important changes include:

  • Exterior Emergency Disconnects: Helps improve electrical safety for emergency responders at one- and two-family dwelling installations
  • Deenergizing Panelboards: Requires a single service disconnect to help increase electrical worker safety
  • Marinas and Boatyards: Updates ground-fault protection and leakage-current measurement device requirements to ensure safer boating areas
  • Power Over Ethernet: Adapts NEC requirements to meet the installation practices of new and evolving technologies
  • Conducting Load Calculations: Modernizes the tables currently in use for calculations to reflect improvements in energy efficiency

All levels of government have a responsibility to keep their communities safe from fire, electrical, and other hazards. “Massachusetts serves as an important example of a state that holds itself accountable for ensuring electrical safety requirements are up-to-date for its residents,” said Sargent. “It’s leading the way in how key stakeholders (in a state) can work together to better protect people and property.” More information about the NEC can be found at

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