Watt's the Word - An Electrical Industry Podcast

Chief Electrical Inspector: Adam Ghani

January 10, 2022 Adam Ghani Episode 10
Watt's the Word - An Electrical Industry Podcast
Chief Electrical Inspector: Adam Ghani
Show Notes Transcript

Adam Ghani, City of Calgary Chief Electrical Inspector joins Zack and Jason on this episode of Watt's the Word.  We discuss the processes and procedures for electrical inspections, conductor color coding, permitting requirements, adoption of the 2021 Code, and much more.

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Jason Cox:

Hello, and welcome to Watt's the Word, an electrical industry Podcast. I'm Jason Cox.

Zack Hartle:

And I'm Zack Hartle. We're thrilled to have you here today as we have another relevant conversation with someone from the electrical industry.

Jason Cox:

On this episode, we're speaking with Adam Ganni, Chief electrical inspector for the City of Calgary. We'll be talking about code interpretations, adoption of the 25th edition of the code, conductor, color coding, and more. So have a listen. Welcome to the show, Adam.

Adam Ghani:

Hey, good afternoon, Jason and Zach. How are you guys today?

Zack Hartle:

Hey, doing great. It's great to have you here.

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Jason Cox:

We're gonna start off you're Adam. And can you just kind of give us a quick two minutes about your professional path and your background into becoming the chief electrical inspector for the City of Calgary?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, absolutely. Jason. So I was an electrician right after high school, I worked in a number of industries, residential, commercial and service work. I also worked a number of years in the oil sands. And I took my master electrician training with sate. And I, while I was working in the oil sands, I wanted to be home more, because as as you know, to town work can be can be hard on the guy. So I, I did my safety codes officer certification, when I was when I was working on a town. And then I, I applied with the city and ultimately got the job as a safety codes officer. And I've been with the city for 14 years now. And in my, in my 14 years, I've worked as a safety codes officer, senior safety codes, officer, supervisor, and now the chief for the for the last three years.

Jason Cox:

Can you kind of tell us a little bit about those different levels of the safety inspector? Maybe some of the different descriptions and maybe some of those specific tasks and jobs?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, no, absolutely. So our base level position is safety codes officer, and they conduct field inspections. We also have a phone we we man, and that's called the Technical Assistance Center. So they they answer code questions and permitting questions to customers, when they receive those calls. And we have another roll within our section that does plans examination. So we do have we do cursory reviews on logical services that are 600 amps, or larger, or over 600 volts. So high voltage services, and solar PV installations, underground installations that are one out and larger. So that's, that's those are the roles done, those are the jobs done by the safety codes, officers. And then in more of a leadership roles, the senior safety codes officer, so they provide leadership and mentoring to the safety codes, officers, and they generally will work on more complex jobs that come in or they you know, they they'll they'll help safety codes officers with those more complex jobs.

Zack Hartle:

So with that Technical Assistance Center, I think that's somebody that maybe not everybody knows about. So maybe we could stop there for a sec, how could contractors working out in the field, contact the Technical Assistance Center and get some help with questions they

Adam Ghani:

have? Yeah, so if you're a contractor, and you're working in the City of Calgary under permit, you can call 311 and ask to speak to the Technical Assistance Center. And through the Technical Assistance Center, we handle questions on of course, electrical, building questions, whether it's residential or commercial building questions, Plumbing and Gas, and also development questions.

Zack Hartle:

Now that you're in more of a leadership role, you're not the one out there doing so many of the field inspections, but what are some of the inspections mistakes or code misinterpretations that you're getting come back to you from the field?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, that's a great question, Zack. So a couple items. So overhead services in the Canadian Canadian electrical code, they're required to have a rigid steel mast of which is trade size 63. So that's a fairly large rigid steel mast. Now, there is a variance in the in the standard data with N It's a variance to rule 6-112 which is which allows us to install smaller conduit sizes, but the specific requirements that are set out in the variance have to be followed. So for example, inch and a quarter is is only so high above the roofline. Now if we have to go higher than that, then of course we have to go up in conduit sizes. Sometimes we See, you know inch and a quarter ran like quite a bit higher than what's allowed in variance. And then like, they'll they'll guy wire the the conduit back to the roofline, which of course, as we know, isn't, isn't really covered in the variance. So if we're going to reduce the rigid steel and mass size that that is allowed in the stand data, we need to follow the very specific requirements that are laid out in the standard. So, so that's one item. And then the other item is underground installations. So rule 12-012. So just make sure that we're we're following the specific requirements in 12-012. And, you know, like, say, when we're installing a Tech Cable, we're not installing it in a trench, like that's full of large rocks are construction debris that can that can damage that cable, and also pay attention to the depths that we're installing those those those raceway systems or, or cables at. And also that if we are going to reduce the depth because 12 012 allows you to reduce the depth is if certain mechanical requirements are met. So we have we follow those mechanical requirements, chemical protection requirements. And and then last is marking tape is required, as per the rule. So we often see that there's there's no marking tape, in the in the trench. And, and then the last thing I'll I'll mention is load calculations. So not completing a load calculation. Say we're adding, you know, supplementary loads to, to an electrical service, whether it be an air conditioning unit, hot tub, Evie charger, secondary suite with a lot of electric heat, just ensuring that we're always doing that load calculation before we add those loads. And we're not going to overload like 100 amp service. What we're seeing is our cyclicals officers are requesting a load calculation and it hasn't even been done. And then which can you know, once it's completed, if you're over the size of the electrical service, then you're looking at a service upgrade, which can be kind of costly to to find out later on. Right. So you want to know that up front,

Zack Hartle:

as service upgrade will definitely increase the price of your hot tub like quite a bit if you're adding one. And so

Jason Cox:

I got a quick question here. If we were to go back to the overhead services we were talking about a moment ago. So you mentioned the trade size 63. However, the possibility of reducing the size of that conduit? Should the contractor be consulting with just the standout? Or would it be a good idea for him to also just contact your your tech senator and speak with the safety codes officer?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so I always I always recommend like the code the minimum CE code requirements or or what's law in Alberta and, and Calgary. So always refer to the rules in the CE code. And then in Calgary, if there is a standout a published we follow the standout. So then refer to the scanned data. And if it if there's still questions if you're if you're unsure, it's always good to ask for permission rather than forgiveness, you can always at that point, you can always follow through on us and ask to speak to the Technical Assistance Center.

Zack Hartle:

One of the things that we have had a conversation with recently about is the use of the orange brown yellow conductors out in the field for 347 600. Now we know I mean, all of us know sitting here that the code doesn't specifically allow orange, brown, yellow for those different voltages. But it's a common code practice or sorry, a common field installation practice. What are you guys seeing with that? And is there any change happening with that?

Adam Ghani:

As you as you pointed out, Zach for some time now. It's been trade practice in Alberta to use orange brown, yellow to identify different slash voltages in a facility that has more than one slash voltage. So 347 600 or 277 480. But as far as we know, that has never been written into the code, we've done some review on this and we've never been able to find it in the code. So now so now since the the C code is the minimum standard and minimum requirement in Alberta by law, we are going back to what with with what the code is written. And so rule 4032 specifically talks about red, black, blue for all for identification of all slash voltages, and there's other parts of the rule to that, but nowhere In that rule, is it written that OB y can be used or orange, brown, yellow can be used to identify slash voltages. And then moreover, slash volt, red, orange, brown, yellow sorry, is to be used for isolated systems in patient care areas, as per rule 24 208. And so we're really, we really want to get back to the minimum requirements of what the code is saying and requires. And so it's, it's expected that if there's an installation happening in the city of Calgary that you know, the raceway systems or the junction box covers and, and panel covers and ways into that system are correctly identified with the voltages that are contained within.

Jason Cox:

Okay, so I have a question on that. And I think you may have answered it, but you'll maybe just give me some clarification here. So I've worked in dozens of high rises in downtown Calgary, where the slash voltage to 277/480, or more commonly 347/600 is used supply lighting to two floors, entire floor spaces or maybe multiple floor spaces. So with the city now, really just trying to work now with red, black blue. In my existing system, if I was to do a Rando on a floor that in the past was all fed with orange, brown, yellow, feeding lamps. But now we're going to LEDs or some other efficiency lighting situation. How am I? Can I have red black blue in the same conduit? Pardon me in the same junction box as existing orange, brown, yellow feeding that new retrofit?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, he's a very, it's a very good question. So we've we've come up with three scenarios that mostly cover different installations, if it's a brand new installation, it should meet the requirements in the code. Bottom line. And if if it's a situation where like, say, say there's a 347 600 volt lighting panel that's on a floor as you've identified, and all the existing wiring is being removed back to the panel, then all new wiring that that's to go to the panel should be red, black, blue, for that 347 600 volt lighting and power. Now, sometimes in high rises, a 347 600 volt panel could serve a few different floors. Now, if you're just doing a renovation on the one floor, so it's a tenant improvement. And there is that, you know, there's that three phase four wire circuit brought out on the floor is this orange, brown, yellow, I would say that that would be carried on with orange, brown, yellow, the last thing we want to do is to create a situation where we're identifying two different colors now, that wouldn't be that would not be good. So those are those are generally the three scenarios. But what I do recommend, if you're starting a project and you're unsure, please contact us Technical Assistance Center you know, you're starting you're starting to rough the rough walls in the in the space and you're wondering what to do with that lighting circuit get get us there for for that initial rough inspection and, and go over with safety Corps officer on on what you want to do for the for the lighting circuits. And we can provide that advice at that time.

Jason Cox:

It's amazing, just to think I mean, I've been out of like the field construction for 15 years now. But with with the introduction now of LEDs, which were introduced a while ago, right those giant 347 volt 600 volt panels that we use to feed all the lighting with now. I mean they're almost obsolete.

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, you could you know, 1114 wire circuit could do an entire floor now with the with the efficiency of that lighting.

Zack Hartle:

So, in terms of maybe punitive measures for not following, you know, permitting requirements or permitting processes, what can contractors or homeowners expect to see?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so, very good question. permits are required under under the act. And and so, all construction alterations, additions, new construction requires to be permitted. And so, you know, when when there is non code compliance or an unsafe condition that's identified Bioceuticals officer, they will write a notice with their with their requirements, to bring it up to code compliance or or safety? And if if those requirements are not met one vehicle to compliance is, is an order under under the safety codes Act. Now, generally the timelines of an order are like 35 days, it's illegal, it's illegal order to comply, it can be less, depending on the situation. And and if if that fails, then there can be charges under the safety codes act for for non compliance or not obtaining an electrical permit. But, but generally, yes, that we we we do want to see permits obtained in the City of Calgary and, you know, it's ultimately the owners responsibility to ensure that permits are are obtained for the work that's that's being completed.

Zack Hartle:

Adam, one thing I've noticed over the last couple, I guess, years, maybe decade is that the permitting process for both homeowners and contractors is becoming easier. So obviously, we have technology now that's helping that along. But would you say that that's a goal of the inspections department is to make that process easy and attainable for everyone to get a permit?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, no, great question. Absolutely. I think it's a corporate push to actually make online services more accessible. We have we have moved a lot of things online. And granted, permitting was online before COVID. But you know, it will get easier to do this stuff online. Now for electrical contractors permits or instant release. And so when you regardless of what you're doing, you you can pull a permit through currently the VISTA system. And that's instant really released, there may be some plans, examination requirements, but those can come in after, after the permits pulled. And homeowners can also pull permits online, through the My ID piece, once they once they create that money Id pretty soon does little forward looking. But while we are doing a project to create my business ID, so the same sort of thing that homeowners have right now but for businesses, and that'll, that'll replace the VISTA ID for pulling permits. But we are we are constantly trying to improve our online services for customers.

Zack Hartle:

And there's no question that improving that system. And I think specifically, in my opinion, like getting homeowners the ability to pull permits and get an inspection is going to create better basement Ruffins and better installations from the homeowner. And hopefully they see that process is easy, and they're not avoiding it. Because of difficulty. Right. And I have heard that has been getting better. And speaking of homeowners versus contractors permits maybe for a minute, what would be the difference between a homeowner's permit and a contractor's permit in terms of inspections? What's the difference there?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so to obtain a homeowner's permit, you have to own and reside in the home. And you you should have, you know, a basic knowledge of wiring and be competent. To do that wiring. We also restrict what homeowners can pull permits for. So homeowners cannot pull permits for electrical service work, they can tie into the branch circuit wiring compartment of a panel. But they can't do anything upstream of that. They also cannot do solar PV installations because of the complexity. And they can't do in ground swimming pools because of the complexity of those systems as well like the belt bonding and grounding requirements. And then homeowners we have to be able to see all of the wiring. So if none of the wiring can be buried a ton of inspection, and you can't be covered by drywall or any sort of finishing material or insulation or vapor barrier. So we want to be able to access like all the wiring of the splices. And so it's quite a rigorous. It's quite a rigorous inspection. Homeowners are slight or sorry contractors are slightly different depending on where where the inspection is taking place and the job value. So we do have a quality management plan that that has those requirements set out in, in in the quality management plan.

Jason Cox:

Adam with the inspections during COVID I understand that you guys were doing some video inspections, is that correct?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, that's that is correct. Jason, we were able to very quickly pivot. And we were given permission by the province to pivot to I'm to video inspections to keep construction going. And so we were doing remote video inspections using Google duo. Up. And that allowed us to keep our workers and, and then public safe, you can imagine, on a daily basis, we do 600 or so inspections, not not just electrical, but you know, I'm thinking of, I'm thinking of electrical, plumbing gas building could be even more in some cases, and development inspections, I should add to that, too. And so we were using this to, to, to try to reduce the touch points that that we could have on a daily basis, some were using that for occupied residential, like so that's your basement developments and, and in general renovation work. And then for some commercial installations as well. Really where safety codes officers saw an opportunity to to use video inspection to reduce the amount of contact they they would have with the public. So it's it's been helpful in in helping us keep our staff and the public safe during the pandemic.

Jason Cox:

So yes, so of course, during the pandemic, right, we've all been forced to take on these new challenges of new uses for technology. For some of us, it's been daunting for others, they they embrace it, and they've been using it for years. So coming out of COVID If, if that was to happen soon I cross my fingers. It seems like these video inspections would be something that might continue.

Adam Ghani:

Yes, I, I don't see I see us using video inspections into the future. So I don't see them going anywhere. It's just It may look different on how we how we do our video inspections and where we use those those video inspections. We have, we have realized some efficiencies. But we do want to use those video inspections for where they're appropriate. Like, for example, the homeowner permits, we definitely want to do a site visit on the on the homeowner piece. It's just it's more of a comprehensive inspection when you're there in person on site and able to do that inspection as opposed to over over video. So we're still we're still working out the details on what that looks like for the future. That's one of our projects.

Jason Cox:

When your contractors are calling into your Technical Assistance Center, do they have the ability to send you guys video and or pictures of things that they're, they're having questions with?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, we, we definitely use all those forms of communication with our customers. But it's very serial scenario specific. So it's really up to the safety codes officer, whether, you know, they, they they accept or communicate using picture video.

Zack Hartle:

So Adam inspection department, they collaborate with the contractors, the electrical contractors, I imagine there's also some collaboration with ENMAX. And I know maybe all three of them work together contractor and Max and inspections. The situation that comes to mind for me, I guess would be in Calgary here we're seeing a lot of infill houses come in where maybe a single family home that has probably a 100 amp, maybe even a 60 amp service come down and in its place goes up a four Plex. So you're quadrupling the load or more with air conditioners and all that probably going in the new houses. How does that relationship between ENMAX contractor and inspections work?

Adam Ghani:

The City of Calgary electrical inspection are where the authority having jurisdiction under Part One of the Canadian electrical code. And then there is a demarcation point at some point depending on if it's an overhead or underground service. So when we think about overhead, so we think about overhead services in say the inner city, the demarcation point would be the Weatherhead for example, and MX is responsible to connect that electrical service with their with their overhead wiring or their the triplex now as under Part One of the canal electrical code, if we're taking down a single family dwelling and we're putting up you know, a duplex or four Plex or whatever the case may be, of course, we would, we would we would do a demand on the service calculation to ensure that we can adequately service the new developments. And then we The City of Calgary electrical inspection doesn't tie in with them max to ensure that MX can can service that new development it's actually up to the customer or the electrical contractor to get a hold of him max. And they can do that by emailing get connected at him. x.com And that's an MX you know, Will, Will will, will ensure that they can, they can correctly service that, that that new development. So in

Zack Hartle:

a situation such as that demarcation point, just to be clear is where, essentially and Max's responsibility would end from their conductor and it becomes the homeowners or the consumer service would take place. Okay, so in an underground situation that would happen at the meter base?

Adam Ghani:

No, it's a very good question in the City of Calgary. For underground services, demarcation is actually the property line. So it's not a point of connection. Which is, which is which is unique. So, yeah, and then for overhead services, it's it's the Weatherhead. So just to reiterate that, for underground services, it's a property line. And then over IT services, it's the weather had.

Zack Hartle:

Great. And then in a situation like that, you mentioned contractor contacts and Max get connected@enmax.com, just to ensure that they are you. Okay, to install larger demand at that point, the utility grid can support it, would they need to submit prints to the city inspection department, when are prints required to be submitted?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so we do plans examination for electrical services that are 600 amps, or larger, and commercial. We don't, there are some, there are a few electrical services that are residential, in the City of Calgary that are actually 600 amps or larger, but we don't require prints for that. And then we do require prints for solar PV also review installations at this time. And we reserve the right to request prints for complex installations. So if there's something we've never seen before, or it's fairly complex, and we want information upfront, to, you know, to to review, and then compile for the safety codes officer who's going to go there on site, we can request that and underground installations, whatnot and larger to meet the, to meet the section four underground requirements, or the IEEE 35. We want to know upfront that, you know, we're either installing to the prescriptive requirements in Section four, or if there's a calculation being done to the standard to the IEEE 35. Underground standard. And so once we, once we get all that information, we review it and then we attach it to the permit, and the safety codes officer can go out and do their inspection based on on what's compiled there.

Jason Cox:

Alright, so a question that just kind of popped into my head here that we probably should have covered earlier on when we're looking at permitting. We always have questions about fire alarm systems. So do you need a building permit? And a fire alarm permit? Pardon me an electrical permit? When do you need both? When do you need one? Can I call the Technical Assistance Center? And basically, Adam, how does all that work?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so generally, if we're doing any sort of fire alarm work, we're going to need both a building permit and an electrical permit. There are very few scenarios where you may only need an electrical permit. So what I recommend, as you pointed out, if you're unsure, please call the Technical Assistance Center and ask to speak to a building SEO. And they can, they can they can discuss your specific scenario with you and advise you on which permits are required.

Jason Cox:

The 2021 Canadian electrical code comes into adoption in Alberta, February 1 of 2022. Adam, is there some changes to that electrical code that you'd like to kind of mention?

Adam Ghani:

Yeah, so the biggest change in the 25th edition is the deletion of table 39. And so now, for residential services, you would select a conductor from table two or four. And so that's that's a major change. And we're we're currently working with MX on what that looks like. Because with the deep service program, they generally supply number two aluminum USCB, 90 or for wrought aluminum USCB, 90 to two single family dwellings to new subdivisions. So that's, you know, it's a major change and to go to go up to bigger conductor sizes, is is going to be quite quite an issue. So we're we're Going through that challenge right now, I don't have a lot of details for you guys. But I want to come back with that. For overhead services, like if we're doing a service upgrade. in inner city, it's generally easier because the electrician can just select what what conductors, they're going to installs per table two and four. And then they can go up in size, because the Weatherhead is the utility demarcation point. And so And Max can still keep their triplex sizing, because that's under their utility code. So that's under Part Three, or the Alberta utility code. So that's the biggest change for for the 20 21/25 edition electrical code. And I will certainly keep you guys posted on on how that on on all the details and what that looks like, the future.

Jason Cox:

Okay, and that's great. Thank you so much for that. What I'd also like to just clarify right now is you guys will be inspecting based on the 25th edition of the code. When the permit is pulled after February 1, is that correct?

Adam Ghani:

That's correct. Yep.

Jason Cox:

Okay

Zack Hartle:

Adam, that's, that's great. Thank you so much for coming on and chatting with us about everything we've chatted about today, with inspections. Like you mentioned, we're gonna hold you to that. And we're gonna bring you back for a follow up in probably around February or something to see what the plan is with underground services. But I truly do appreciate your time. And thanks for coming on the show today.

Unknown:

Excellent. Thanks, Jason. And thanks, Doc. Appreciate it. Appreciate you having me on the show.

Jason Cox:

very appreciative today to have Adam on the show, to have an hour of his time to talk to us about just the processes and the procedures and what the inspection departments like definitely, we get asked questions about strange situations all the time when it comes to the code. And it was nice to talk to an inspector and get his feedback on that. What do you think Zack?

Zack Hartle:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think like you say, I'm really appreciate the time from Adam. And just having that time with any inspector. I mean, they have such a wealth of knowledge where they're going out, and they're seeing so many different installations. And I love that he pointed out the the Technical Assistance Center, right, making those inspectors available to people doing the installations in the field. So definitely an asset that, I mean, hopefully someone learned about that today and can use them moving forward.

Jason Cox:

Yeah, I think it's a great point. Like a lot of times when we're looking at those weird code situations, now, it's just gonna be simply call your safety codes officer, call 311. Talk to someone in the Technical Assistance Center. Hey, if it's fire alarm, you might have questions about building permits, and electrical permits. So, so great, great topic of conversation there today.

Zack Hartle:

What was the big takeaway for you?

Jason Cox:

Well, the orange, brown, yellow, of course, we talked about it. And I remember kind of looking at it, like shaking my head, the first time I started pulling orange, brown, yellow 20 plus years ago. So it'll be interesting to see in the months to come how that's adopted in the industry, if everyone just quickly abandons orange or brown, yellow, or if they keep pulling it because they weren't aware of the change. So it'll be neat to see how that comes about it. It does make sense. And it would be nice to have some sort of consistency throughout our trade, not just in our city, but obviously throughout the nation.

Zack Hartle:

Yeah, it's one of those interesting trade practice conversations. I mean, technically, nothing's changing. Now, we're just following the code as it has always been written. But yeah, I remember being an apprentice and for years, pulling a couple of years pulling orange, brown, yellow, only to go to school to find out, well, that's not right, to then go back to site to be like, Oh, no, we always pull orange, brown, yellow. So yeah, it's an interesting application now and trying to follow the wording of the CE code. So it's good to see.

Jason Cox:

Yeah, and I mean, truthfully, now, back in my day, we had giant 347/600 volt lighting panels. And those panels might not be used hardly at all anymore, at least to the full capacity. They were in the past just because of the changes in LED lighting. So yeah, so we continue to learn and we'll look forward to talking to Adam hopefully in the new year.

Zack Hartle:

Absolutely. And just also a big shout out to the City of Calgary as a whole they were very easy to deal with to facilitate the recording of this podcast. And we do appreciate that, that openness and that willingness to come on the show. And of course, also thanks to all of our listeners who are here listening to this show. Jason and I are here trying to bring relevant conversations and we'd love to hear from you. We Want to know what you want to hear about? Please reach out to us, Facebook, Instagram. Let us know what you want to hear about on the show. You can connect with both of us on LinkedIn if you want. And please make sure you're subscribed Apple, Google Spotify, wherever you listen to podcasts, and tell your friends to get the word out there.

Jason Cox:

Just remember, this isn't a race to the bottom, it's a race to the top. Make sure you pull your permits and work safe and we'll see you guys on the next episode.