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CONSUMER REPORT: Federal Pacific Electric Panel Boxes Can Be Fire Hazards

FPE Panel Image FPE Panel Image 2

The Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker
panels boxes in North America from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Over time, electricians and home inspectors found Federal Pacific Electric panels sometimes failed to provide proper protection to homeowners. Experts say that certain panels could appear to work fine for years, but after one overcurrent or short circuit, they could overheat and become fire hazards.

Resources

FPE Consumer Alert Brochure
2007 Report FPE Circuit Breaker Hazards
2011 Report FPE Circuit Breaker Hazards.pdf
FPE Panel Video 1
FPE Panel Video 2
FPE Panel Video 3
FPE Panel Video 4
FPE Panel Video 5
FPE Panel Video 6

What is the History of the Florida Building Codes (FBC)?

Florida Building Codes

The law creating the Florida Building Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1998 and became effective on March 1, 2002. Here is a brief history of why the Florida Building Commission was created and explains why the motivations for the first state-wide building code. Hurricane Andrew, that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992 caused extensive damage and tore apart homes of all ages in South Florida including newly constructed homes, This hurricane exposed more than the interiors of thousands of homes and businesses, the storm revealed a serious statewide problem in how homes were being constructed. Florida had an antiquated system of locally-administered building codes, building code compliance and enforcement of these codes. Thousands of the homes hit by the hurricane and other structures simply did not stand up to the storm as well as they should have, and the effects quickly rippled out from South Florida to the rest of the state. Hurricane Andrew broke all records at that time for insurance losses, and was the direct cause of Florida’s worst insurance crisis in history. Insurance companies quickly realized that all of their worst-case predictions were grossly understated; Florida was seriously under insured and over exposed to these major catastrophic storms. In the storms aftermath, many insurance companies simply pulled out of Florida and those that stayed felt it necessary to raise premiums to high levels in order to avoid the very real threat of bankruptcy following another hurricane. This affected home owners in all of Florida as they saw their insurance rates rise drastically and found a lack of available new insurance threatening to pull the plug on development in every part of the state. This program made creating building codes and their administration and enforcement a statewide issue. The FBC have been amended over the years. The effective dates of later versions of the code are shown in the graphic above, and the latest version is the 2014 Florida Building Code (5th Edition), which went into effect on June 15, 2015; except that implementation of a few sections of the new code was delayed by the Legislature until June 15, 2016.

What are Flood Maps?

Flood Zone Map

Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk. Communities use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains, lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them to help determine what you should pay for flood insurance.

Flood maps show areas of high, moderate, and low flood risk as a series of zones. High-risk zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), begin with the letters “A” or “V.” Moderate- to low-risk zones, known as Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas (NSFHAs), begin with the letters “X”, “B” or “C.” There are also areas where the flood hazard is undetermined, labeled as Zone D.

View your map now at FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center, or learn more about FEMA flood insurance rates.

Key Points About Flood Insurance

Insurance

  • Buyers may purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent, not directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate- to low-risk flood area, your lender may still require you to have insurance.
  • Rates do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. The rates depend on several factors, including the date and type of construction of your home, along with your area’s level of risk. Most premiums include a Federal Policy Fee, a fee to help defray any increased cost of compliance with higher standards after a flood, and a Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 Surcharge. If your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you may qualify for an insurance premium discount. The discount is calculated based on the community’s efforts to reduce the risk of flooding. The higher the elevation above the base flood elevation, the lower the premium will be for the property.
  • A property’s location on the NFIP flood map may determine whether a lender requires a flood policy.
  • Buyers may purchase a flood policy, regardless of where their home is located, since flood damage can also occur in moderate and low-risk zones.
  • The contents of a home are not typically covered by flood insurance. Speak to your insurance agent to make sure you have the coverage you want.
  • In most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase until a policy goes into effect. If you purchase flood insurance in connection with making, increasing, extending, or renewing your mortgage loan, there is no waiting period.
  • In some instances, a Buyer will be able to assume the Seller’s flood insurance policy.
  • You must pay for the full year’s premium. The NFIP accepts check and credit card payments (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa).

What is an Elevation Certificate?

Insurance

Structures built in a Special Flood Hazard Area – including A, AE, and AH zones – or a Coastal High Hazard Area – including VE zones – when constructed were required to have a FEMA Elevation Certificate to prove that the structure met the required Base Flood Elevation. A FEMA Elevation Certificate is required during construction before the first permanent horizontal member is placed. A final construction Elevation Certificate is also required. The Elevation Certificate is also required for new flood insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program. Elevation Certificates can be prepared by local, licensed surveyors. An older home where the owner paid cash may not have an Elevation Certificate and you will need to pay to have one done. The Elevation Certificate is used when purchasing a flood insurance policy to receive any discounts.

Flood Elevation Resources

Homeowner Guide to Elevation Certificates
Homeowners Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

County Flood Resources

Charlotte County Flood Protection InformationFlood Zone Map
Collier County Flood Protection InformationFlood Zone Map
Lee County Flood Protection InformationFlood Zone Map
Sarasota County Flood Zone LocatorFlood Zone Map

City Flood Resources

Cape Coral Flood Protection Information
Bonita Springs Flood Protection Information
Fort Myers Flood Protection Information
Fort Myers Beach Flood Protection Information
Marco Island Flood Protection Information
Naples Flood Protection Information
North Port Flood Protection Information
Punta Gorda Flood Protection Information
Venice Flood Protection Information

Elevation Certificate Download

Cape Coral Flood Elevation Certificates
Charlotte County Flood Elevation CertificatesInstructions
Collier County Flood Elevation Certificates
Lee County Flood Elevation Certificates
Marco Island Flood Elevation Certificates

Get an Elevation Certificate for your Home

Property Surveyor Resources

What Is a Wind Mitigation Inspection?

Inspections

When purchasing a home in Florida, the cost of hazard insurance can be a major issue. From my experience, the newer the home, the lower your insurance costs will be. Insurance rates start high and then are reduced (discounted) based on many factors, like age, roof design, roof type, your credit score. That said, homes that were built older than 2002 will need an inspection to determine if any insurance discounts can be had. This inspection is called a Wind Mitigation Inspection (Report). In areas that require windstorm insurance, state law entitles you to certain premium reductions, but without an inspection, you will not get them. During a wind mitigation inspection, a certified inspector reports on the key features that may decrease the amount of damage your home suffers during a hurricane or strong windstorm. These features fall into several categories, such as exterior construction type, roof shape and construction methods, age of roof covering, door and window opening protection as well as the actual year the home was built. Another factor may be the elevation of a property and how it relates to wind speed.

What is a 4-Point Inspection

Inspections

Insurance companies have become increasingly reluctant to issue Homeowner Insurance Policies on older homes (usually 25-30 years old or more). The insurance company’s common concern is that there may be conditions in an older home that could become a liability to them and in order to consider a home policy, they may request the Buyer to give them a 4-point inspection is report. The report is usually created by a home inspector. The report covers four areas of the most interest: 1) Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), 2) Electrical wiring and its components, 3) Plumbing and its components, and 4) the Roof condition. Any of these four elements could be a potential source of a home owner’s insurance claim. As an example, if a home has a roof nearing the end of its reliable service life and if it fails while under the policy and the homeowner seeks reimbursement from the insurance company for damages to the home or its contents. Similar concerns extend to the condition of the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems in an older home. If these elements are in poor condition, in need of being updated or replaced or were improperly installed, they may fail and cause fire or water damage to a home. If they are re in good condition, the insurer can feel more confident about issuing a policy. Newer homes are to not have the above problems as frequently as older homes.

Charlotte County Resources

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