For Immediate Release
April 12, 2016
NEW YORK – Today, Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler announced that the Department is launching a new initiative to inspect all gas plumbing jobs prior to allowing service to be turned on. The program will begin this summer and will be performed by 22 newly-hired plumbing inspectors who will focus on gas safety. The new inspection policy follows a new partnership between DOB and the City’s utility companies in which all parties immediately notify one another of suspected illegal gas work or unsafe conditions.
“Improving gas plumbing safety is a key priority for the Mayor and for DOB. Over the past year, the Department has focused extensively on identifying vulnerabilities in gas regulations, and has implemented a series of reforms to increase oversight,” said Buildings Commissioner Chandler. “By inspecting all gas connection jobs prior to turning on service, we will enhance gas safety for all New Yorkers and hold plumbers accountable for their work.”
Currently, licensed master plumbers are permitted to certify that their own gas plumbing work is code-compliant. Under the Department’s new policy, an inspector will follow up to ensure that gas connections have been properly installed and tested and are safe for service. This new initiative will initially be implemented in Manhattan this summer, and expand Citywide in 2017. DOB is rolling out the new program in Manhattan because the borough has the oldest gas infrastructure and highest population density in the City.
Last year, the Department of Buildings and Con Edison partnered to share inspection data immediately after illegal or unsafe gas plumbing conditions were found. This initiative ensures that gas service remains suspended until all unsafe conditions are resolved. This partnership resulted in more than a 400% increase in referral-based inspections of unsafe gas plumbing conditions in 2015. Building upon the success of this initiative, the Department began coordinating with National Grid earlier this year to implement a similar data-sharing partnership.
Enhanced oversight of gas plumbing jobs is part of the Department of Buildings’ mission as outlined in our Building One City plan to implement proactive enforcement strategies in all aspects of construction.
"The commitment to audit 100% of gas plumbing jobs brings much needed accountability, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for this imitative,” said Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez. “This proposal is a crucial step to ensure that the all gas related tragedies come to an end, and am fighting in the State legislature to make additional improvements to the safety of our gas systems."
“I applaud the Administration for taking this important step in improving oversight over gas installation and enhancing gas safety,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “These new 22 inspectors will provide the accountability and oversight that is needed to ensure we prevent any tragedies from happening in our City. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Buildings Commissioner Chandler, and ConEd for their attention to this matter and for continuing to prioritize the safety of all New Yorkers.”
"Failing to properly inspect gas installations is literally a matter of life and death. The only way to reduce liability and increase public safety is to strengthen existing regulations, increase enforcement and penalties, and invest in upgrades to our aging infrastructure," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "These are necessary changes that will protect precious lives and preserve valuable property. I'd like to thank Commissioner Chandler for adding more inspectors and committing to providing the necessary oversight to save lives."
"After tragedies shook East Harlem and the Lower East Side communities, the dangers our aging infrastructure became readily apparent to all New Yorkers," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "The steps that the DOB is taking, hiring more inspectors and adding important accountability measures are encouraging. We must take the utmost care when it comes to our gas mains and ensure that anyone working on them are experienced, certified and have the necessary oversight to protect New Yorkers."