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Posted by Dan Laird

Do I Need a PE to Perform an Arc Flash Study

October 4, 2021

State boards of examiners for engineers are charged with protecting the public in any aspect related to engineering design. These boards take their mandate seriously given the grave consequences that can result from negligence or incompetence on the part of designers. These boards have become more proactive in their protection of the public and policing of the profession as seen in a few recent examples here in North Carolina. (Source: The North Carolina Bulletin, The Newsletter of the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, May 2016 Spring Issue).

Offering arc flash and automation services without a license (Case No. V2015-058)

An industrial services company in Apex, NC was issued a letter of violation for offering to practice engineering without being licensed by the state. According to the state board:

 “The activities include, but are not limited to, references to services (automation, arc flash computation, and various analyses) on the web site that require engineering and references to a non-licensed company to do those engineering services.”

The board is unambiguous about arc flash computation requiring a licensed engineer. Merely listing arc flash services on a website is a violation. If a company sub-contracts the analysis to a third-party engineer, the website must reference the licensed company and not their own as the provider of arc flash services.

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Offering services without a resident licensed professional (Case No. V2015-009)

A services company in Raleigh, NC was issued a letter of violation for failure to have a resident licensed professional in responsible charge of the office. The action of the state board in this case:

 “Refuse to renew or reinstate license, or revoke license if renewed.”

Turnover is a fact of life with engineering firms. This is particularly true with branch offices of large corporations. Failure to maintain proper oversight can result in loss of licensure. Be sure all studies are traceable to a licensed and competent professional.

Offering life safety design services without a license (Case No. V2015-045)

A risk management company in Raleigh, NC was issued a letter of violation for offering to practice engineering without being licensed by the state. According to the state board:

 “The activities include, but are not limited to, holding out engineering services and capabilities, and designing security systems that involve life safety.”

Life safety systems are the domain of professional engineering firms. While security systems can provide an ever increasing number of features and benefits, these systems must be designed to code and under the guidance of licensed and competent professional.

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Some states are more stringent than others on arc flash studies being performed by a licensed PE yet consequences resulting from an improper arc flash study can be devastating. If you are tasked with brining your facility up to arc flash standards and NFPA code compliance, make sure all consulting work involving engineering or life safety is done under the direct supervision of a licensed PE in your state.


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About the author

Dan Laird is the Regional Manager for the South Atlantic region of Hallam-ICS in Raleigh, NC.  He has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University and is a registered power systems PE in 10 states. Dan has over 20 years’ experience in industrial power systems and has been performing arc flash hazard analysis studies since 2006.

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About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide. 

Topics: Arc Flash and Electrical Safety

Dan Laird

By Dan Laird

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October 4, 2021

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