How to Comply with Boiler Room Rules
Now that “Heat Season” has officially started on Oct. 1, it may be a good time to review the many city laws and regulations that focus on your building’s boiler room. Four city agencies can hit you with violations related to your building’s boiler and boiler room. Here’s what you need to know to avoid these violations.
Get Required Permits
You need permits from two city agencies to operate your boiler.
1. DEP registration certificate or certificate of operation. The boiler/burner certification law requires you to get either a registration certificate or a certificate of operation from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) when you install a new boiler or burner or make major alterations to an existing boiler or burner (such as replace equipment on it). Either certificate must be renewed every three years. The type and amount of fuel your equipment uses determines which certificate you get.
- Registration certificate. You need this if your boiler or burner uses #2 oil or natural gas and an “aggregate” of 350,000 to 2.8 million BTUs of fuel per hour. “Aggregate” refers to the “aggregate load” rule, which requires you to apply for certificates based on the total capacity of the fuel-burning equipment attached to the same chimney.
- Operating certificate. You need this if your boiler or burner uses #2 oil, #6 oil, or natural gas, and uses over 2.8 million BTUs of fuel per hour, or uses #4 oil and over one million BTUs of fuel per hour.
> Penalty. A fine of between $350 and $4,000, depending on the boiler’s capacity.
> Where to get help. For more information on how to get the required certificate, you can visit DEP’s Web site at www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/air/air_code_related_forms.shtml.
2. DOB equipment use permit. The boiler permit law requires you to get a permit for a boiler from the Department of Buildings (DOB). You need this permit to operate your boiler if your building contains six or more units; three or more units with a boiler greater than 350,000 BTUs input; or any commercial tenants (that is, is a mixed-use building).
Your licensed plumber or oil-burning equipment installer should file for the permit.
> Where to get help. For more information on how to get the DOB permit, you can call the DOB’s boiler division at (212) 393-2550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Boiler Room Accessible to HPD Inspectors
If your building has three or more apartments, you must comply with the boiler room access law. That law requires you to keep your boiler room accessible, on a 24-hour basis, to inspectors from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) Division of Code Enforcement. Otherwise, an inspector can break down the boiler room door one freezing night in response to a heat emergency.
If you keep your boiler room door locked, you must leave a key on the premises at all times. You can give the key to a resident super or janitor. If there’s no resident super or janitor, give the key to a trustworthy tenant who can let inspectors in when necessary.
> Penalty. A fine of between $50 and $275 per day.
Post Required Signs
1. DEP certificate. The boiler certificate posting law requires you to post your DEP operating or registration certificate.
> Where to post. In the boiler room.
> Penalty. A fine of between $50 and $200.
2. DOB permit. The boiler permit posting law requires you to post the DOB permit for the boiler.
> Where to post. In the boiler room.
> Penalty. A fine of up to $1,000.
3. HPD-approved boiler room key signs. If you keep your boiler room locked, you must post two identical HPD-approved signs that give the name of the person holding the key and tell where the person can be found. The sign must read: “Key to heating system area lock is located at [insert name of person with key and that person’s location].”
> Where to post. Place the signs between six and eight feet above the floor in two locations—the building’s lobby or entrance hall, preferably over the mailboxes; and the boiler room door.
> Sign construction. The signs must be made of metal, plastic, or pressure-sensitive vinyl, with lettering at least 3/16ths of an inch in height. The sign itself must be large enough to accommodate the lettering while still providing a ¼-inch margin around the lettering on all sides.
> Penalty. A fine of between $50 and $150 per violation, plus $125 per day until corrected.
Maintain Fire Protection Equipment
The NYC Fire Department Rules require a minimum 20 B:C-rated dry chemical-type portable fire extinguisher or a minimum 2 B:C-rated carbon dioxide portable fire extinguisher near each boiler. The fire code doesn’t accept sand pails as an approved portable fire-extinguishing medium.
Get Boiler Inspected
If your building has six or more apartments, or fewer than six apartments with a boiler that services any commercial space, you must comply with the boiler inspection law. That law requires you to get your boiler inspected each year between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, and to file an inspection report with DOB.
1. Conduct inspection. Who may conduct the inspection depends on the type of boiler.
> High-pressure boiler. You must have the boiler inspected by an authorized insurance company. Inspectors working for a state-authorized insurance company must have a certificate of competence from the state’s Department of Labor.
> Low-pressure boiler. Inspections can be performed only by authorized boiler inspectors licensed by DOB or an authorized insurance company.
2. File statement and report. By Dec. 31 of each year, you must file a Boiler Inspection Report (BO-9 Form) with DOB. It gives the boiler location (that is, the building address); the inspection date; the name and address of the insurance company or inspector that conducted the inspection; the inspection results; and the insurance policy number covering the boiler.
> Penalty. You can be fined $50 per month as a late penalty, up to $1,000 per year.