Federal Pioneer Breaker Recall

ESA Safety Authority released a Product Safety Alert concerning Federal Pioneer NCO15 and NC015CP breakers. Fedral Pioneer Breaker Recall

Name of Product: Federal Pioneer NC015 and NC015CP, Single Pole Rated 15A, Stab-Lok Circuit Breakers.

Scheider Electric has issued a Voluntary Recall of these breakers manufactured between Aug1, 1996 and June 11, 1997.

Replacement breakers are the same as ones shown on right except they have a hole drilled in handle indicating not affected by recall notice.  Replacement breakers manufactured after Jan 1, 1999 have a rounded and ribbed handle and are not affected by recall.

FPE – Parent Company of Federal Pioneer

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation into Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breakers began in June 1980, when Reliance Electric Co., a subsidiary of Exxon Corporation and the parent to FPE, reported to the Commission that many FPE circuit breakers did not fully comply with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) requirements. Commission testing confirmed that these breakers fail certain UL calibration test requirements. The Commission investigation focused primarily on 2 pole residential circuit breakers manufactured before Reliance acquired FPE in 1979.

Information and lab tests uncovered by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit show many Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok breakers will not trip, continuously providing electricity to the short circuit, which can cause intense heat and in some cases fire. When working properly, circuit breakers are designed to prevent fires.  They are designed to cut off the flow of electricity when charged with excessive electrical demand or short circuit, also known as “arching.”
“There is no inconsistency and no dispute in the fact that they are defective,” says Jesse Aronstein, an engineer, who has spent more than 20 years researching FPE Circuit Breakers.
Aronstein has testified in lawsuits against FPE and warned, “The breaker is a safety device that is supposed to prevent fires, if it doesn’t work as required, you get an increased risk of fire.”
In 1999 it was learned from Schneider Canada that Federal Pioneer circuit breakers sold by that company are re-named from Federal Pacific circuit breakers and that two 15-amp single-pole models NC015 and NC015CP made between August 1, 1996 and June 11, 1997 have been recalled.  It has never been clearly identified if the FPE breakers were simply renamed for use in Canada or if the same tooling used in the US was also used to manufacture Federal Pioneer Breakers in Canada.

Federal Pacific Electric Panels

Federal Pacific Electric “Stab-Lok® ” service panels and breakers are a latent hazard and can fail to trip in response to overcurrent, leading to electrical fires.

The breakers may also fail to shut off internally even if the toggle is switched to “off.” Some double-pole (240-Volt) FPE circuit breakers and single-pole FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers simply do not work safely.

There are other Federal Pioneer / Federal Pacific electric panel-defects independent of the breaker problems, panel and panel-bus fires and arcing failures in some equipment. The failure rates for these circuit breakers were and still are significant. In some cases failure to trip occurs 60% of the time – a serious fire and electrical shock hazard. Failures are documented in the CPSC study and by independent research.

Should You Replace an FPE Panel ?Federal Pacific Stab Loc Panels

Federal Pacific Electric breaker panels (FPE Stab-Lok breaker panels) have a high risk for unexpected circuit breaker failure. These breaker panels have high failure rates linked to thousands of house fires; thus, they are considered defective and unsafe among most inspectors and electricians.

The common stance among home inspectors and home inspection certification organizations, like NACHI and ASHI, is that Federal Pacific Electric breaker panels need replacing. Homeowners with a Federal Pacific Electric panel should update their electric panel box.  The Wasaga Beach Home Inspector identifies FPE Panel Boards as part of Items Inspected during Home Inspection.

The safety of the Federal Pacific circuit breaker panels has been a major ongoing topic for many years now.

There seems to be much controversy about them, and there is a good reason for that. However, what does that mean for future homeowners that stumble upon a house with a Federal Pacific breaker panel?

Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok breaker panels are dangerous and considered a latent fire risk. Consider these facts:

  • The Consumer Products Safety Commision identified Federal Pacific Electrical panels as a latent safety hazard over 40 years ago. However, there are still over 25 million FPE panels in residential homes and commercial businesses in the United States.
  • Federal Pacific breakers fail to trip over 25% of the time when a 135% electrical surge is detected. The CPSC found that subsequate electrical surges increase failure rates to 65% or more.
  • Based on the information collected from fire reports, it’s estimated Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panel failures cause 2,800 fires, 13 deaths, and $40 million in property damage annually in the United States.

If you have a FPE or Federal Pioneer panel with Stab Lock breakers it is recommended that you have an ESA Inspection or hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to inspect and verify the safety of your equipment.  The information on this page is provided for information only and none of the facts verified except for ESA notification of Voluntary Recall of Stab Lock breakers.

Home Inspection

Most professional Home Inspectors will identify FPE panels and possibility of Federal Pioneer recalled Stab Lock breakers in your Inspection Report.  Identification of a potential hazard will at least give you the opportunity to investigate further saving you from unexpected expense and a possible hazard.  The Wasaga Beach Home Inspector provides detailed information to his clients when discovering Federal Pioneer Stab Lok Breakers or FPE panel boards.

Building a new home?  Learn the benefits and varieties of Home Insulation that are now available.


Remember when buying a home in Ontario, rule of thumb is :  Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware