The Boiler Room Newsletter - A look at boiler operations, maintenance and safety

A message from the Chief

Greetings, and thanks for reading this edition of The Boiler Room.

I would especially like to thank Ken Eshleman of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co. for the following article on boiler furnace explosions. Ken was a member of the Board of Boiler Rules until his term ended recently. Ken has been a pleasure to work with, and I especially want to thank him for his many years on the Board, for his commitment to public safety and for giving his time, experience and knowledge to us all.

I’d also like to welcome our new board member, Tim Barker of FM Global Insurance. Tim has a terrific background in the industry, and I’m sure he will be an asset to the board. I look forward to working with Tim.

On a sad note, Chuck Walters of the National Board of Boiler Rules and Pressure Vessel Inspectors passed away on Oct. 28 at the age of 59. Chuck was once chief inspector for the state of Oregon. He later moved to Columbus, Ohio, to be on the staff of the National Board. For many years, he came back to Washington to help us with training and to participate in our annual Washington State Boiler Inspections Association meetings. We will miss him.

Please recommend the Boiler Room to other boiler professionals. They can sign up here to receive it via e-mail.

- Linda Williamson, Acting Boiler Chief


    CSD-1 Part CF and Boiler Furnace Explosions

    By Ken Eshleman, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co.

    Over the past several years, the main occurrences to boilers in the state of Washington have been furnace explosions. Here are a few things you should know:

What is a furnace explosion?

A furnace explosion is the rapid, uncontrolled combustion of fuel in the combustion chamber or exhaust flue of a boiler. Furnace explosions can cause damage to the boiler, its burner and controls and to the boiler’s surroundings.  Furnace explosions have caused significant building damage.

What causes a furnace explosion? 

  1. Fuel leaks into the combustion chamber/furnace when the boiler is not firing. If the unconsumed fuel finds an ignition source, it iginites in an explosive fashion.
  2. Fuel continues to flow/leak into the furance after the boiler shuts down. An explosion can take place when the fuel reaches a critical quantity/mass and contacts an ignition source such as a hot refractory surface.

Is there a simple way to help prevent furnace explosions?

Yes, boilers installed and maintained in compliance with the requirements of CSD-1 will help prevent furnace explosions.  According to the state of Washington Boiler Section, most of the affected boilers did not meet the standards of ASME CSD-1, Part CF. 

Washington State Rule WAC 296-104-302 Installation states:

In addition to those requirements listed in WAC 296-104-301, the following are also required with regard to installations or refits of gas, oil, or combinations of gas or oil:

  1. All boilers installed or refitted after December 1998, with fuel input ratings of less than 12,500,000 BTU/hr which are fired by gas, oil, or a combination of gas or oil shall comply with the fuel train requirements defined in ASME CSD-1 (CF), as adopted in WAC 296-104-200 where applicable.
  2. Verification of fuel train compliance will be per CSD-1. A CSD-1 report will be completed and signed by an authorized representative of the manufacturer and/or the installing contractor.
  3. The CSD-1 report must be made available to the authorized inspection agency or the inspector after which a certificate of operation may be issued. The report shall remain in the possession of the boiler owner.

All boilers installed before December 1998 are grandfathered. By state of Washington requirements, their combustion controls and fuel trains are not required to meet the requirements of CSD-1 Part CF until they are replaced or significant updates are made to the controls or fuel train.  One of the requirements of CSD-1 is the need for two fuel safety shut off valves. Most of the boilers that suffered furnace explosions had only one fuel safety shut off valve.

What benefit is the second fuel safety shutoff valve?

As with any controls, redundancy will normally improve the overall reliability of the equipment.  In this case, the second valve along with the first valve helps prevent the possibility of fuel leaking into the furnace.

If you have a boiler that was installed before December 1998, consider upgrading your boiler’s fuel train and combustion controls.

Yes, this will cost you money. But where can you save?

  • You will save the costs associated with a furnace explosion. 
  • Some utility companies give grants or low cost loans to upgrade to more efficient heating equipment.
  • More efficient boilers provide the cost savings of less fuel consumption.

Most of all, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your heating equipment is operating safely and efficiently.


    Boiler Section passes triennial ASME Authorized Inspection Agency review with flying colors!

    L&I’s Boiler Section is one of only five states in the nation accredited by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to provide authorized inspection services to manufacturers of boilers and pressure vessels. To maintain ASME certification, a boiler/pressure vessel manufacturer must have an approved quality control program that is audited for code compliance every three years.  As an Authorized Inspection Agency, the Washington State Boiler Section is also required to have a quality control program which must pass a triennial audit by the ASME.  In August, two representatives from the ASME spent three days performing an audit of our quality control program. 

    I am pleased to announce that after a very thorough three-day audit, the program passed with no findings. Washington State’s Boiler Section will continue to provide authorized inspection services to the state’s boiler/pressure vessel manufacturers.  

    Thanks to all the hard work of previous chief boiler inspectors and our field inspectors and program staff for making the L&I Boiler Section a model program.


    Got Gas?

    Two days after receiving a personal carbon monoxide (CO) monitor or “gas badge,” a boiler inspector conducting an inspection at a supermarket was alerted to CO from a small space heater. He notified the manager, who immediately shut down the heater for repair.

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas which in large amounts can overcome a person without any warning, cause loss of consciousness and suffocation in minutes. L&I gave the CO monitors to the inspectors as part of their personal protective equipment because there is always a possibility of CO exposure when inspecting gas-fired boilers.


    Boiler Section quality assurance

    Boiler Section staff from around the state recently completed a three-day training event where they learned the latest information on boiler basics, safety valves, historical boilers, tank inspections and more. This yearly training ensures consistency and quality among boiler inspectors as they perform boiler inspections around the state.

    Thanks to L&I staff Mike Carlson, Dave Sumpter, Chris Davies, Tim Swanson, Stuart Anderson, Jerry Shiflett and Bobbe Hundley for creating and presenting the training.



Boiler rule amendments adopted

The latest amendments to the Board of Boiler Rules will be adopted on Nov. 21 and become effective on Jan. 1, 2007. The new rules will be available after Jan. 1 at the Laws and Rules web site.


New state boiler examination

The state has a new and updated “Certificate of Competency” boiler exam, thanks to the joint efforts of L&I staff Tony Oda and Sunghee Seong and members of the Board of Boiler Rules. The new test is made up of 124 questions drawn from the old test database, along with 50 newer questions. The new exam will cover all topics, including laws, rules, administration, inspection, construction, installation and repairs/fees.

Using a new state-of-the-art format, each test will be individually generated from randomly selected questions to give a fair representation of the laws and rules of the state. No two tests will be the same, ensuring integrity and confidentiality of the examination process.


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Board of Boiler Rules

Our next Board of Boiler Rules Meeting will be held:

January 9 & 10, 2007 at 10 a.m, Room 3
Tacoma Labor & Industries
950 Broadway, Suite 200
Tacoma, WA

Future meetings will be March 20 & 21, 2007. View the agenda and minutes from past meetings.


Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA)

Monthly lunch meetings:
The Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA) holds a lunch meeting on the first working Monday of each month to discuss current topics. The meeting is held at:

Andy's Diner
2963 4th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA

43rd Annual Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association Meeting

Thursday, March 15, 2007
Museum of Flight
9404 E. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA

Stay tuned for more information.

To receive an invitation to upcoming events, contact the association at:


As the Department of Labor & Industries Boiler/Pressure Vessel Section, we are working hard to provide you with quality customer service. Sign up for our Listserv and receive safety bulletins and news.


Please see the L&I Boiler Inspector Web page to find the inspector in your area.

For questions about boiler regulations, fees and forms, please contact:

Tony Oda, Technical Specialist
Phone: 360-902-4983

Bobbe Hundley, Secretary Administration
Phone: 360-902-5271

Karol Conly, Customer Service Specialist (Supervisor)
Phone: 360-902-5273

Kay Piesch, Customer Service Specialist
Phone: 360-902-5272

Annabel Schmidt, Customer Service Specialist
Phone: 360-902-5267

Department of Labor & Industries
Boiler Program
Phone: 360-902-6400
Fax: 360-902-5292

The Boiler Room is a Web-based newsletter from the Department of Labor & Industries' Boiler Program.

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