Federal Pioneer & Federal Pacific Electrical Panels

Federal Pioneer Panel Problems – The Electrical Safety Authority has revised and re-issued a Safety Flash that was originally published in 1997 – their concern is that potential problems might still exist for Federal Pioneer breakers that may not trip! Schneider Canada has announced a voluntary Replacement Program on certain NC015 and NC015CP Breakers. The affected circuit breakers are Federal Pioneer NC015 and NC015CP, Single Pole Rated 15A, Stab-Lok Circuit Breakers – Manufactured between August 1, 1996 and June 11, 1997. These circuit breakers can be identified by a Square / rectangular shaped BLUE colored handle Replacement breakers are identified by a hole drilled in the handle (Blue color)Federal Pioneer Stab Lok Breakers OR Replacement breakers manufactured after January 1, 1999 are identified with a rounded and ribbed handle (Blue color) Check for a square / rectangular handle with a hole, as illustrated or a rounded / ribbed handle – these are OK and not impacted by the recall notice. Breakers with black handles are also OK to use and not impacted by the recall notice. Contractors/Electricians: For any suspect blue-handled circuit breaker replace the breaker and return it to Schneider Electric for full credit, or contact Schneider Electric Customer Care Centre at 1-800-565-6699 or the Schneider Electric Recovery Administration team, at 1-866-333-1490 for additional information. Customers should call their contractor or call Schneider.

How to identify Federal Pioneer Stab-lok® Arc Fault Interrupters (AFIs) for replacement

Step 1: Was the loadcentre (electrical panel) installed before March 1, 2004? Yes – installation is OK – disregard this notice. No – continue to Step 2. Step 2: Check the loadcentre to identify the brand.  Federal Pioneer Stab-lok? – continue to Step 3. Square D QO? – call 1-800-565-6699 to obtain a Square D QO AFI identification sheet – document number D1100HO0401EP R0. Any other brand? – installation is OK – disregard this notice. Step 3: Identify the AFIs installed in the loadcentre (see photos on reverse). Stab-lok AFIs will have an ON/OFF handle as well as a blue or green test button. Continue to Step 4. Step 4: Does the AFI have a green test button? Yes – installation is OK – disregard this notice. No – Continue to Step 5. Step 5: Does the AFI have a blue test button and a green dot identification sticker next to the test button? Yes – installation is OK – disregard this notice. No – continue to Step 6. Step 6: Does the AFI have a blue test button only? Yes – the AFI may fall within the affected production batch and must be inspected by a licenced electrical contractor. No – return to Step 4 or Step 5. Stab-lok Loadcentre Date Code information To view the date code, the loadcentre trim must be removed. The date code is located on the AFI product label. If the date code outside the range 0419 to 0439 – no further action required. If the date code is any number from 0419 to 0439, the AFI should be replaced. If the date code is not legible, the AFI should be replaced. Red test button ONLY This is a ground fault interrupter (GFI) and is not affected by this notification – no further action required. Green test button ONLY This product is OK – no further action required. Blue test button and green dot identification sticker This product is OK – no further action required. Blue test button ONLY A licenced electrical contractor must remove the trim and inspect the date code. AFIs with date codes between 0410 and 0439 should be replaced. All other Stab-lok AFI date codes are OK – no further action required. (See below for date code location.) Schneider Electric Head Office/Siège social 19 Waterman Avenue Toronto, Ontario M4B 1Y2 Tel.: (416) 752-8020 Fax: (416) 752-6230 www.schneider-electric.ca F1100HO0401EP R0 © 2004 Schneider Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved November, 2004 How to identify Federal Pioneer Stab-lok® Arc Fault Interrupters (AFIs) for replacement WARNING This equipment must be installed and serviced by qualified electrical personnel. For more information visit www.arcfault.ca

What is The FPE Stab-Lok® Hazard

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE Stab-Lok® ®) was a widely-distributed electrical panel brand throughout the United States and under the Federal Pioneer brand, also in Canada very similar product continues to be sold. For years, anecdotes and field reports about FPE Stab-Lok® ® hazards and defects have been discussed at professional conferences and occasionally in the media. Field reports of recalls, poor and even fraudulent manufacturing & labeling, house fires,and injuries have been reported attributed to this product. Independent testing confirms that FPE Stab-Lok® ® circuit breakers fail to trip, at times as much as 70-80 percent of the time. We have found no data indicating that circuit breakers from other manufacturers fail at anywhere near this high rate With 3,000 FPE type breakers tested to date (2018) the statistical certainty of conclusions drawn from the data is very high. These breakers have a significantly-high rate of failure to perform safely. Details are at CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE RATES and also at FPE INVESTIGATION CPSC This electrical equipment is a fire and injury hazard.

    1. Fraudulent FPE Stab-Lok® ®practice: In 2002, in a class action lawsuit in New Jersey, the Court ruled that over many years FPE had violated the NY Consumer Fraud Act. Specifically, the court found that “… FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards as indicated on their label. This constitutes an unlawful practice proscribed by the Act.” The court’s decision, which was based on extensive evidence that included FPE’s own documents, confirmed long-standing allegations of FPE’s fraudulent testing practices.


    1. High FPE Stab-Lok® ® failure rates: Despite FPE’s fraudulent testing and falsified UL labeling, defective FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers were installed in millions of residences throughout the United States. Tests on more than 500 Stab-Lok® breakers from homes across the country show defective performance for about 1/3 of the two-pole FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers and about 1/5 of the single-pole FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers in those tests. Most recent FPE Stab-Lok® testing of 830 breakers from a New Jersey condominium found failures to trip on response to overcurrent in up to 70% of cases where 2-pole breakers were installed. 80% failure rate has been demonstrated on GFCI breakers, and 100% failures to trip occur on jammed 2-pole breakers experiencing a second overcurrent event.
    2. FPE Stab-Lok® ® fire & injury hazard: In addition to the failure of these circuit breakers to protect a building and its occupants from dangerous overcurrents, switching an FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker to the “off” position may leave the breaker “on” internally, risking serious or fatal electrical shock. Based on failure studies and field reports, experts estimate that FPE Stab-Lok® panels cause significant annual property damage losses, injuries, and deaths each year. 


    1. FPE Stab-Lok® ® is a latent fire and shock hazard: the presence of the equipment in a home does not itself initiate a failure. Rather, when a dangerous overcurrent occurs, the equipment is likely to fail to provide the safety protection that is expected of circuit breakers. For this reason, an owner’s failure to observe a problem “up to now” is absolutely no assurance that the panel is safe. It may simply be that an overcurrent has not previously occurred and the circuit breakers have not been called-on to do their job.
    2. FPE Stab-Lok® ® equipment violates the National Electrical Code Because of the proven high defect rate, the FPE Stab-Loc breakers do not provide the circuit protection that is required by applicable codes and standards (NEC and UL). This constitutes an increased risk of fire and injury. NEC-240-2 “Equipment shall be protected against overcurrent …” – a building with FPE a Stab-Lok® electrical panel does not meet the requirements of the NEC nor of any other electrical code.


    1. FPE Stab-Lok® ® field inspection or testing not reliable: There is no practical way that a licensed electrician, inspector, or engineer can determine which breakers in a given electrical panel are seriously defective internally. The only way to do that is by means of functional and life test procedures that they are not trained to do nor equipped to perform.  Do not attempt field testing of FPE Stab-Lok® ® equipment. Doing so risks serious fire or injury, and testing, even simply switching breakers on and off increases the risk of a future failure to trip.


  1. Replace FPE Stab-Lok® ® equipment: Given these facts, FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panels and circuit breakers should be considered an un-due fire and injury risk and we recommend that the equipment be replaced completely. (Do not purchase and install replacement circuit breakers)

In May 1999 we 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. The SCHNEIDER AND FEDERAL PIONEER AS WELL AS SOME SQUARE-D RECALL NOTICES are available here. We asked the company engineer with whom we spoke if he could determine if Federal Pioneer and Federal Pacific components sold in Canada were made in the U.S. or if tooling used to produce them was identical with that used in the U.S. If this is the case (as one might expect based on economies of production) one should consider the possibility that other defects reported in the U.S. may also appear in Canadian installations. As we report at FPE STAB-LOK HISTORY, quoting information from legal cases from 2005, all Stab-Lok® breakers are essentially identical. The Federal Pioneer Warranty Alert was issued by the Ontario New Home Warranty program in October 1997 and provides for circuit breaker replacement. Schneider Canada is an electrical supplier whose product lines combine those previously marketed under the names Federal Pacific Electric, Federal Pioneer, Square-D, Tele Mechanique, Modicon, and Merlin Gerin. Carl Grasso, an attorney who researched FPE failures for the New Jersey class action suit explains that since a portion of the safety defect with FPE breakers may be due to variations during manufacture, and since Canadian breakers may be manufactured in a different plant from those made in the U.S., it is possible that the field performance of Canadian breakers may be different than the U.S. design. Schneider Canada, the Federal Pioneer parent company, has not provided information regarding design or manufacture changes over the U.S. design, nor provided test data regarding the product.


As of May 2008 we have had a few reports of failures in the Canadian Federal Pioneer (Stab-Lok® ) equipment and also reports of failures of “replacement” FPE circuit breakers installed in U.S. panels. Having inspected some Canadian FPE (Federal Pioneer-brand) electric panels, we observed two ongoing concerns: 1.) the same bus design was used as in the U.S. equipment. I’ve seen very poor retention of breakers in the bus – in one house the breaker was held in place by duct tape, as the spring design in the contact of the breaker where it plugs into the special opening in the bus appears not to have held the breaker in place. We have also seen breakers modified with their inserting pins bent and modified to fit a breaker into a slot where it did not belong – a step that is impossible with other breaker designs. 2.) A similar or identical panel design may expose consumers to panel arcing and fires regardless of changes in the breakers themselves. This information is provided for evaluation by Federal Pioneer and Federal Pacific home owners.  Fpr more information or documentation please visit Inspectapedia.com

The hazards that are depicted in these incident reports are predictable from the results of the original
CPSC investigation. I trust that this collection of fire and incident reports will motivate CPSC to revise
its outdated and ambiguous consumer safety information on FPE breakers and panels.
Yours truly,

Jessse Aronstein, Ph.D, P.E.

1. Newspaper Article, 2/3/99, “Home Fire Attributed to Circuit Breaker” (NJ, Dateline Journal)
“A Washington Avenue fire may have been caused by a faulty circuit breaker that has a long history of
being undependable according to Fire Prevention Officer David Meisenberg, …” ” .. when rafters in the
space between the attic and the ceiling of the room below caught fire from overheating wires.” “…what
probably happened at the Washington Avenue home is that the circuit breaker did not stop the flow of
electricity through an abnormally stressed circuit. The wires overheat, like those in a toaster. Instead of
burned toast, burned beams resulted, since the wires were tacked to them in accordance with the code.
…” “…identified the trouble prone switch box as an old Federal model …”

2. EMail 8/7/99
“Last month a co-worker was responding to an apartment maintenance request … he found the breaker
on … and no lights, he said he had power on the load side. Thinking that there was a loose connection
at the first fixture he returned to the shop for a ladder. What we didn’t know was that the problem was a
short and that the Federal Pacific breaker had failed to trip. We never had a chance to return with the
ladder, the fire department interrupted our repair. Nobody was at home so nobody was hurt. Five homes
were left uninhabitable and the damages will probably reach $500,000. Not bad work for one faulty 15
amp breaker. …”

3. EMail 8/17/99
“We sustained a horrible fire in January of this year. It was stated by the fire officials in our county that
it was a BX blow out. Electrical wiring in the wall. We did have a FP electrical panel at the time. We
were later told that the fire may not have occurred IF the FP electrical panel had done its job of
“shutting” activity down so to speak. Forgive my poor terminology and my novice perspective. We
have spoken to many electricians in the interim and were told that FP electrical panel was a horror. …”

4. EMail 2/4/02
“I have a Federal Pioneer panel in my house with stab lock breakers. On two separate occasions
breakers have failed to trip under a short circuit condition. One was a 15A single pole and the other was
a 20A double pole. I am quite concerned about this …”

5. EMail 6/24/02
“Doing an inspection last week, I found a Federal Pacific main panel with Stablock Breakers in place.
No service disconnect, house not occupied, so I decided to trip some breakers. I tripped a 50 amp
breaker to the kitchen oven and microwave unit in a newly remodeled kitchen. The breaker clicked to
the off position with no problem, but the circuit stayed hot. Tripped it off and on several times and no
change or loss of power to the oven set. I then tried the dryer circuit. Tripped a 30 amp breaker to the
dryer then checked outlet with a stinger and found this circuit was still hot. Two out of three two-pole
breakers were faulty. That’s scary if you think of a home owner doing some repairs and modifications to
something and expecting the circuits to be dead after flipping the breakers off. These things just don’t
work properly.”

6. EMail 7/12/02
“We had a fire in my home Tues. due to over-current and FPE Stab-Lock Panel 100amp service. The
panel failed to trip and fire occurred within a wall. We have been in this home one month. the home
was inspected and we were given no warning about FPE panel. …”
Richard Stern, CPSC FPE Breakers: Field incidents – Fire, Failures, Personal injury 3/7/06 P. 2

7. EMail 8/19/02
“I had the fuses in our home replaced by a Federal Pacific panel and breakers approx. 25 years ago.
There have been 3 occasions when I thought the breaker should have tripped and it did not. The last
time this happened was about 3 weeks ago. I consulted a electrician and he stated that these breakers are
defective and should be replaced. …”

8. EMail 10/22/02
“This story really helps to put in perspective that experiment that Alan, John, and I did a few years ago,
where the FPE breakers wouldn’t trip even though the service wires were whipping around from the high
currents being carried through those breakers.”

9. EMail 12/24/02
“… A gal in her 90’s had an electrical fire a few nights ago. …… I removed a burnt-up 240v electrical
baseboard heater and discovered that the circuit remains hot with the main switched off. ….. It is a 200
Amp (doublethrow 100 amp) Federal Pacific Electric breaker. …”

10. EMail 4/30/01
“I have made a report that has opened up a lot of discussion and concerns about FPE breakers and
panels. These are located in all the ICBM sites. It seems (nobody is admitting, yet) a bad fire tood place
at one of the sites and the strong suspect is the FPE breaker/panel. …”
11. EMail 5/2/01
“My neighbor has a 1974 mobile home, the FPE panel is in… … The Main breaker switch on the panel
has been tripping during operation of – or when turning up the thermostat on – the furnace. The circuit
breakers (4 ganged to two of 2 ea.) have not been tripping. Only the Main trips. … “

12. EMail 5/14/01
” … Just as I was screwing down the panel it blew up and flames shot out. It kept on arcing and
buzzing. It kept on going and the main breaker didn’t trip. Finally, I heard a power line fuse blow
somewhere in the neighborhood and it finally stopped. … “
Richard Stern, CPSC FPE Breakers: Field incidents – Fire, Failures, Personal injury 3/7/06

These are emails sent to

Richard Stern
Office of Compliance U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington D.C.