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

A message from the Chief

Hello, and thank you for reading The Boiler Room. This newsletter gives me an opportunity to tell you about new developments and accomplishments in the Boiler Program. I hope you enjoy reading it. If there are other topics you'd like to see covered here, send me a note at, and I'll try to include it.

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

Thanks for your interest!

- Linda Williamson, Boiler Chief


Expertise and flexibility from the Boiler Rules Board prevents a major delay in King County wastewater tunneling project

A snag in construction of a new King County wastewater treatment system was recently averted due to quick action by the state’s Boiler Board.

The county’s new “Brightwater” system includes a 13-mile underground tunnel from Woodinville to Point Wells on the Puget Sound – a project that has required four tunnel boring machines that operate at extreme depths.

In July 2010, with only two miles left go, the project was shut down when one of the westward-bound boring machines broke down.  The county’s contractor said it could continue work, but only if it could extend its eastward-bound bore to the point of the malfunction.

The snag was the certification of the pressure vessel – called a “manlock” - the contractor was using on that side of the bore to safely decompress its workers before returning to the surface.  It wasn’t rated for the higher pressures the bore would encounter as it moved ahead further – and deeper – than planned.

However, the Boiler Board was able to grant the manlock a “State Special” rating after the project’s contractor provided extensive non-destructive examination and engineering information that demonstrated the manlock could safely be used at the higher pressures.

The delay was prevented, and the entire tunnel is scheduled to be completed in September 2011.

Photo of Brightwater Tunnel Project Boring Machine

Brightwater Tunnel Project Boring Machine

    L&I makes sure a steam-powered parade float is safe and ready to go

    Sunnyside engineer Tim Bardell promised his daughter he’d build her a parade float if she won the Miss Sunnyside competition – a steam calliope engine with its own, handmade boiler.

    So when his daughter, Joyanna Bardell, became the 60th annual Miss Sunnyside, he had his work cut out for him.  In 2010, she and her court would be traveling to more than 15 parades around the state.

    Bardell said the families of the Miss Sunnyside court decided their float would replicate the stern wheeler “Diamond Queen,” with its multiple decks, boxy shape, pilot house, tall stacks, paddle wheel, whistle, and calliope.

    Wanting to make sure he complied with state regulations, Bardell contacted the Boiler Program, which sent him a manual for building hobby boilers.   “I reluctantly called expecting a bureaucratic negative response,” said Bardell, “but I read these rules for hobby boilers, and started design.  I was a kid in a candy store.”

    Though he started with an existing pressure vessel, Bardell decided he needed to start from scratch and collected donated materials, including  12” x 10g pipe, 1” A53 fire tubes, and A572 ¼” structural grade tube sheets from the local structural steel fabricator.  A call from L&I’s boiler program convinced him to raise his safety standards, so he decided to comply with all the material specifications and workmanship standards of ASME BPVC provisions for welded miniature boilers.

    “After a series of other delays and generous donations of miscellaneous needed parts; we did it.  Weighing about 100 pounds, about 13 inches diameter, and 13 inches long, we have a fully assembled vertical fire-tube pressure vessel, boasting a burst-strength over 20 times the normal operating pressure.  With the help of a local boiler service provider, we passed the visual inspection and pressure test while under the third-party scrutiny of Miss Sunnyside herself.

    “Now the next big milestone: test firing of the boiler and steam testing the calliope.  Toot, toot, screech, toot, toot! Wow!  What a thrill!  We may actually pull this off!

    “Friends at the local cheese factory with a really nice source of steam, tuned the whistles, and programmed the computer for playing the calliope.  We installed the “devices” on the float.  Mounted, lagged, and unpainted, she does not look like much from inside the float.  But the polished brass and copper whistles sing with that distinctive sound that stirs passion in the hearts of steam enthusiasts.”

    The Diamond Queen from Sunnyside won Best Community Float in the state for 2010, winning the top awards in all the major parades, including Wenatchee Apple Blossom, Spokane Lilac, and Seattle Seafair.

    Read the complete text of Tim Bardell's story

    Photo of the Diamond Queen steam-powered parade float

    The "Diamond Queen" steam-powered parade float

    New boiler tags boost requests for safety inspections!

    Our new “Sorry We Missed You” tags appear to be boosting the number of callbacks we get from businesses, churches, and schools we visit for boiler safety inspections.

    Some boiler inspectors are reporting response rates that have jumped from 10% to 50% because of the change.

    According to one inspector, “The friendlier, straightforward tags now let customers know I want to look at their water heater, as opposed to their non-existent boiler and they are less perturbed when they call back.  I think the old tags just rubbed people the wrong way.  They were confrontational.”

    The tag design has been picked up by L&I’s electrical program, and are part of a larger L&I effort to make instructions and information clearer to customers.

    Image of new door hanger notification flyer

Keith Lessard joins the L&I boiler inspection team

Join me in welcoming Keith Lessard, who joined our Region 4 inspection group on Sept. 16th.

Keith began his career in the U.S. Coast Guard (1967-1973), then worked as a forester with the U.S. Forest Service for 11 years as a wildfire control specialist.  After that, Keith says he’s worked in “the oil fields, with hog fuel boilers, and underground gold mining until 2000, when the Washington Department of Social and Health Services hired him as a Stationary Engineer 2.”

“ I am dedicated to my trade and look forward to serving with you for years to come,” Keith said.

Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association:
47th Annual Technical Meeting

Mark your calendar for the 47th Annual Washington State Boiler Inspectors (WSBIA) Technical Meeting coming up on Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Seattle.

This year’s program features jurisdictional ASME and National Board updates critical to the industry, along with other informative presentations by industry experts.

The meeting will be held at the:
Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way South, Seattle
8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 14, 2011

Please visit the Boiler website for updates and registration information.

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Board of Boiler Rules

Our next Board of Boiler Rules Meeting will be held:

February 9, 2011 at 10 a.m., Room 504
Tacoma Labor & Industries
950 Broadway, Suite 200
Tacoma, WA

Future meetings will be May 24 & 25, 2011. View the agenda and minutes from past meetings.


Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA)

The Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association (WSBIA) holds a lunch meeting on the first working Monday of each month to discuss current topics. The February 7 meeting will be held at:

Goldie's Airport Way
3924 Airport Way S.
Seattle, WA

47th Annual Washington State Boiler Inspectors Association Meeting is April 14, 2011.

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


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

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

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

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

Alicia Curry, Administrative Assistant
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

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

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

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