BOILER OPERATOR

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Boiler Operator

Stationary engineers and boiler operators control stationary engines, boilers or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or for industrial purposes.

Duties

Stationary engineers and boiler operators typically do the following:

  • Operate engines, boilers and auxiliary equipment

  • Read gauges, meters and charts to track boiler operations

  • Monitor boiler water, chemical and fuel levels

  • Activate valves to change the amount of water, air and fuel in boilers

  • Fire coal furnaces or feed boilers, using gas feeds or oil pumps

  • Inspect equipment to ensure that it is operating efficiently

  • Check safety devices routinely

  • Record data and keep logs of operation, maintenance and safety activity

Most large office buildings, malls, warehouses and other commercial facilities have extensive heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that maintain comfortable temperatures all year long. Industrial plants often have additional facilities to provide electrical power, steam or other services. Stationary engineers and boiler operators control and maintain these systems, which include boilers, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment, turbines, generators, pumps and compressors.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators start up, regulate, repair and shut down equipment. They monitor meters, gauges and computerized controls to ensure that equipment operates safely and within established limits. They use sophisticated electrical and electronic test equipment when servicing, troubleshooting, repairing and monitoring heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators also regularly perform routine maintenance. They may do a complete overhaul or replace defective valves, gaskets or bearings. In addition, stationary engineers and boiler operators lubricate moving parts, replace filters and remove soot and corrosion that can make a boiler less efficient.

Work Environment

Stationary engineers and boiler operators typically work in boiler rooms and mechanical rooms.

They were employed in a variety of industries. Because most stationary engineers and boiler operators work in large commercial or industrial buildings, the majority of jobs were in manufacturing, government, educational services and hospitals.

The industries employing the largest numbers of stationary engineers and boiler operators in 2012 were as follows:

  • Manufacturing 26%

  • Government 19

  • Hospitals; state, local and private 16

  • Junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools;

    • State, local, and private 13

  • Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 5

In a large building or industrial plant a senior stationary engineer or boiler operator may be in charge of all mechanical systems in the building and may supervise a team of assistant stationary engineers, assistant boiler tenders and other operators or mechanics.

In small buildings there may be only one stationary engineer or boiler operator who operates and maintains all of the systems.

Some stationary engineers and boiler operators are exposed to high temperatures, dust, dirt and loud noise from the equipment. Maintenance duties also may require contact with oil, grease and smoke.

Workers spend much of their time on their feet. They also may have to crawl inside boilers and work while crouched or kneel to inspect, clean or repair equipment.

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