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It's actually just a standards manual published by the (U.S.) National Fire Protection Association. LOCAL and/or State law may require adherence to either the NEC or some other electrical code.
For example, in Chicago, the NEC is superceded by the Chicago Electrical code. see
and navigate to / your Government / City Departments / Construction and Permits / References and Ordinances / Electrical code
Here is the Wikipedia entry: »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_E···%28US%29
and a linky to the 2008 electrical code:
Additionally, here is the 2007 NFPA Fire Code
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