No matter what kind of company you work for in the United States, there are plenty of regulations that you will have to deal with. Everyone is familiar with OSHA and the fines or other consequences that can result if an inspection determines that you have failed to comply with their regulations. When it comes to boilers or other pressure vessels, most states and municipalities also have local codes that require equipment to be periodically inspected by a state boiler inspector, the fire marshal's office, or another designated authority.
Annual or biennial inspections are ideally performed during a shutdown period or a convenient time when you can afford to have your boiler down. Planning ahead for this can save you from having additional down time that could cost your organization money. Even more importantly, having a contingency plan in place for your worst-case scenario could save you even more, should your equipment fail. When your boiler is down and you are under heavy stress to get steam or hot water back online, thoroughly considering everything necessary for a temporary replacement may be difficult. Often, one of the things that is forgotten is that in most parts of the country, rental boilers are not exempt from inspections.
Even if it is only temporary, most states will require an inspector to approve two things prior to allowing a fired pressure vessel to be brought online: 1. the vessel itself must be sound and must conform to code (for which an inspection certificate is issued), and 2. the installation must also meet or exceed local code (for which an installation permit is issued). The first inspection of equipment will require both an external and internal examination, so you will need to open the vessel and allow the inspector to see the fire side & water side and determine the condition of the equipment. This can be avoided in most cases if the boiler has been registered with the state, granted a boiler number, and is still covered under the inspection period posted on its certificate. This inspection process can take several hours to complete, and it might be difficult to get an available inspector on short notice.
These delays may make it tempting to cut corners, but as with any regulatory enforcer, shortcuts should NEVER be taken. The immediate penalty of being caught is that you can face a hefty fine or immediate liability in the event of an accident. Depending on the inspector and the condition of the equipment, an inspector may “red-tag” (or effectively condemn) it and shut you down until they are satisfied that their prescribed changes have been implemented or until a more thorough inspection has been completed and documented. Not only could you possibly be down even longer, but losing the trust of your inspector will not make future inspections any easier. Most inspectors understand that your particular emergency may be an extenuating circumstance, and they simply may be unable to physically get to the site; at their discretion, you may be given permission to proceed with start-up, pending an inspection at a later date. It is advisable to get such permission in writing, if possible.
Just like renewing the registration on a vehicle, there is also a fee associated with both the inspection certificate & the installation permit. In many states, an installation must be performed by a licensed contractor or installer, and they will be responsible for applying for a permit. These fees vary from state to state, coming in the range of $20-200 for the inspection certificate and either a flat or hourly fee for inspecting the installation. WARE advises clients to contact their boiler inspector office to verify what is needed to make a temporary boiler compliant with local regulations. When you are trying to get back online, the last thing you need to do is risk being shut down, so do yourself a favor and keep it legal—it will save you a lot of trouble down the road!