New regulations governing the inspection of gas lines went into effect January 1 of this year – the city’s response to deadly explosions in Harlem and the East Village – but the Department of Buildings (DOB) is still hammering out the fine print.
Public hearings were held in January and February, and the DOB is reviewing that testimony as it works to finalize a timetable for rolling out the new regulations, as well as the training that will be required of certain inspectors.
The regs already state that every building that uses gas must have its exposed gas lines and building service meters visually inspected at least once every five years by a licensed master plumber and that a portable gas-detection meter must also be used in common areas. After the inspection, a report must be filed within 30 days by the licensed master plumber who performed the inspection. If a problem is detected, the plumber must inform the building owner, the utility company, and the DOB. Failure to submit any of these reports is considered a major violation.
One plan currently under consideration, according to DOB spokesman Andrew Radansky, is a staggered rollout. Under this scheme, buildings on Staten Island would have to be inspected by the end of this year, followed by the Bronx next year, Manhattan in 2021, Queens in 2022, and Brooklyn in 2023. The cycle would begin anew in 2024. At a public hearing in February, the DOB heard testimony on a proposed rule governing the qualifications, applications, and examinations for people who will be allowed to work on gas lines. Meanwhile, co-op and condo boards and other building owners await final decisions from the DOB.
“We’re all waiting for some direction on what they’re doing,” says Phil Kraus, president of Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating.