The regs just keep coming. Years after a series of gas explosions rocked the city, the de Blasio administration is finalizing stricter safety standards for building owners and gas workers, Crain’s reports. These tweaks will be stitched into the new Department of Buildings (DOB) regulations that went into effect on January 1 of this year, including the requirement that building owners inspect exposed gas lines every five years, and that certain workers take a safety course before tinkering with potentially explosive gas lines.
The existing rules are being rolled out year by year. By the end of this year, for example, all buildings with gas lines in Staten Island must be inspected. Next year will be the Bronx’s turn. After this rollout has proceeded through the five boroughs, the cycle begins anew in 2024.
The law currently requires visual inspections of all exposed gas lines and building service meters, as well as use of a gas-detection meter 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.”
Master plumbers and their assistants are currently allowed to make repairs to gas lines. But next year, apprentices will be required to obtain a certification to do any work on their own, and the DOB's proposed rules spell out the required course work.
In the wake of the deadly explosions, the DOB took a number of measures in addition to the new inspection regs. These included beefing up staff, increasing communication with utilities, and requiring all inspections of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island gas lines be overseen by the city. The improvements have not proved failsafe. In November, a gas leak and electrical fire caused an explosion that shattered the windows of an Equinox gym on the Upper West Side gym. The good news: no one was injured.
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