The Plumbing Foundation Testifies at Hearing on Gas Inspection Bills

On Monday, September 13, 2021, Executive Director April McIver testified at the NYC Council Committee on Housing & Buildings Hearing on several pieces of legislation related to Local Law 152/2016 periodic gas inspections, including:

  • Intro. No. 2259 – extending the deadlines for buildings in Community Districts 2, 5, 7, 13, and 18 in each borough from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
  • Intro. No. 2321 – requiring the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to create a hardship program for owners unable to comply with LL152 inspection due dates.
  • Intro. No. 2361 – requiring DOB to create a questionnaire related to LL152 inspections for owner feedback .
  • Intro. No. 2377 – extending the physical scope of gas piping inspections.

Executive Director McIver reiterated the industry’s position that LL152 inspections are critical safety inspections and any extension or hardship program considerations should be carefully balanced by the Council and DOB.

Most importantly, the Plumbing Foundation raised several concerns with Intro. No. 2377, which seeks to clarify the scope of the inspection. While the plumbing industry commended the Council for taking important and necessary steps to clarify what needs to be part of the inspection, McIver stated that, respectively, the amendment falls short and rather creates further confusion. The Plumbing Foundation proposed instead that the bill is revised as follows:

  • The scope of the inspection should include all visually accessible gas piping except for inside individual dwelling units (i.e. residential tenant spaces) and the point of entry regardless of location.
  • Allow licensed master plumbers (LMPs) to certify that a building contains no gas piping, otherwise an owner has to hire a more costly registered design professional.
  • Require that only LMPs and those holding a gas work qualification from the Department be able to conduct inspections (to provide the 5 years’ experience requirement that DOB set forth in rule).
  • Require DOB to add to its reporting requirements any information collected by the combustible gas indicator / leak survey instrument that are needed to perform these inspections.
  • Clarify the actions that must be taken for immediately hazardous v. nonimmediately hazardous abnormal operating conditions (AOCs).
  • Reverse the DOB’s recent lowering of a civil penalty and rather increase it – a lower penalty will only incentivize continued non-compliance. We have seen lowering of penalties, by rule or law, in many safety related installations; from sprinklers to backflow devices and inspections of water tanks and cooling towers, noncompliance can lead to devastating effects.

Executive Director McIver urged the Council to take these proposed revisions into careful consideration. Chairman Robert Cornegy acknowledged that the industry will be part of the ongoing negotiations of the bill.