Gopher Pole

Your article about the Gopher Pole can give the impression that low-voltage cable and fiber can be installed by placing it over a suspended ceiling and allowing the ceiling to support it. This is a direct violation of the National Electrical Code (nec). The 1996 edition of the nec states, in section 300-11(a), "Wiring located above a non-fire-rated floor/ceiling or roof/ceiling assembly shall not be secured to, or supported by, the ceiling assembly, including the ceiling support wires. An indepe

Claud O. McCrory III, P.E.

McCrory Electric Co.

Memphis, TN

Your article about the Gopher Pole can give the impression that low-voltage cable and fiber can be installed by placing it over a suspended ceiling and allowing the ceiling to support it. This is a direct violation of the National Electrical Code (nec). The 1996 edition of the nec states, in section 300-11(a), "Wiring located above a non-fire-rated floor/ceiling or roof/ceiling assembly shall not be secured to, or supported by, the ceiling assembly, including the ceiling support wires. An independent means of secure support shall be provided." The section also states, "Cables and raceways shall not be permitted to be supported by the ceiling grids."

This prohibition regarding supporting cables from the ceiling grids is also covered by statements in nec 725-7, 760-8, and 800-6, which require that cables be supported by the building structure. Most ceiling grid systems are not rated as a building structure.

The illustration in the referenced article will give the impression that installing cables in a random manner and allowing the ceiling grids to support them is an accepted installation method and may lead an untrained worker into violating fire codes.

The author replies: Sincere thanks to Mr. Strothenke and Mr. McCrory for their responses and their concern. I did not intend to mislead cabling installers into believing that a ceiling grid is an acceptable support structure for cables.

The illustration on page 29 was intended to show the capability of the Gopher Pole, and to do so simply. The article focused on the Gopher Pole and other tools that help to install, not support, cables. The illustration in question also shows an enormous amount of headroom above the ceiling tiles?not what most installers find in the field, I?m sure. A true-to-life illustration would have shown a more-cramped environment above the ceiling, including a cable-support structure as well as other duct work and venting. I believe that such an illustration would have distracted readers from the focus?routing cable from one spot to another.

Finally, cable often is not put into a support structure until after it has been pulled from one point in a building to another. Trying to pull a bundle of cables through a support hook, for instance, can be difficult and can cause snagging.

That being said, Mr. Strothenke?s and Mr. McCrory?s message has come through loud and clear. In hindsight, a caveat within the caption beneath the illustration might have been the most appropriate place to address cable-support requirements.

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