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FPE Story - The proof is in the pudding


Kyle Kubs
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I've known of the FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) fire hazard potential for years before inspecting, due to experiences in the field working the trades. Some personal experiences and some just from being on the right job site at the right time. But having it happen during an inspection is all the proof the pudding need and makes it that much more poignant.

Worked in a two family house recently with two newer main panels in the garage each having a few circuits plus the 40amp. disconnect feeding the two FPE sub panels in each apartment that handled most of the branch circuits. Had an assistant working with me that day who I've been training into the trade. At one point in the basement I asked him to take the multi-meter, pointed to a duplex outlet with a metal box being fed by EMT and said check that the conduit is a good ground and use it to check the water, gas piping and forced air ductwork for current... Not noticing that the screw was missing that was supposed to hold on the metal receptacle cover, he proceeds to put the common probe to the conduit and the hot probe in the hot receptacle slot. At this time, of course, the loose cover falls off and bridges the gap between the hot probe and the metal box. [:-bigeyes The pop & flash was a great indicator that the conduit was indeed a good ground... When he went looking for the tripped breaker he came back to tell me that not only did none of the 15 amp. FPE breakers trip, but that the 40amp. serving as the main for that panel did!

Served as a great example to the client of why they needed to meet the trash bin... Hey we don't just do inspections, we do demonstrations too.[^]

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Originally posted by AHI

Was this the stab loc breakers?

Yeah, it would have been. Stab-Lok was FPE's name for its horribly flawed design for the point of connection to the bus bars. Stab-Lok and FPE are synonomous.

So Kyle, you gonna start carring around a fork with a couple of missing prongs to show the clients how those FPE's won't trip? [:-skull][:D]

Brian G.

Your Wife Says to Up Your Life Insurance First [-crzwom][:-dev3]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Originally posted by AHI

Was this the stab loc breakers?

Yeah, it would have been. Stab-Lok was FPE's name for its horribly flawed design for the point of connection to the bus bars. Stab-Lok and FPE are synonomous.

So Kyle, you gonna start carring around a fork with a couple of missing prongs to show the clients how those FPE's won't trip? [:-skull][:D]

Brian G.

Your Wife Says to Up Your Life Insurance First [-crzwom][:-dev3]

Yes it was the Stab-loc breakers & no Brian, I think I'll pass on the fork thing... I like my hair the way it is.

Talking about it later with my assistant I was just glad there was another, non-FPE breaker protecting that panel or we might have started a fire. Always look at the retaining screw as you go to plug something into a receptacle with a metal faceplate. If it's missing or really loose you may be about to have an experience.

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