Introducing the revision of the Core BSS Examination Checking Procedures

A review of the core BSS Examination Checking Procedures (ECP) used for examining private boats; self-drive hire boats and many static let boats (e.g. B&B) and the interim revised ECP were adopted this Autumn 2021.

What Are The BSS Examination Procedures

The ECP sets out how the BSS Requirements are to be applied during BSS Examinations on privately owned and privately managed vessels and the relevant checks of the Hire Boat Requirements 2017. BSS Examiners use the ECP ‘manual’ alongside a checklist recording form, so new revised model BSS Checklists have also been created.

Apart from changes to two technical standards It is important to understand that no new technical standards or requirements are being introduced. These two changes only affect a tiny number of boats with cast iron fitments on LPG systems and a few dozen Wilderness trail boats with gas fridges. (full details below)

Crucially, there are a handful of slight relaxations of the preceding BSS Requirements and/or the addition of further compliance options, the vast majority of changes

However, around three-quarters of the 540 adjustments are editorial improvements or process amendments that will help everyone’s understanding and application of the BSS Checks, whether they are BSS Examiners, boat owners or members of the marine industry. We have provided some more detail below and at the end of this article there is a link to a 140-page document called – ‘Every Change Explained.’

The Background – How it happened

The interim review task began in 2019 and the aims were limited to:

  1. ensuring that the published ECP support the consistent application of the Checks by BSS Examiners; and,
  2. ensuring that BSS Examiner training can be effective to deliver an individual’s understanding of BSS Checking actions, Requirements and Applicabilities, whether the training is for existing Examiners or new-entrants.

The following factors were considered:

  1. a review of the historic comments, Check-by Check, made by Examiners on the BSS Database. Comments can indicate the level of understanding of the application of the Check; and,
  1. previous recorded discussions at BSS Technical Committee meetings; and,
  2. a review of the technical enquiries received into the BSS Office or collected during BSS Examiner Field Assessments or the new entrant training programme; and,
  3. comments made by Examiners arising during formal investigations alleging poor application of BSS Checks and procedures; and,
  4. information, generally from the marine industry that a specific Check may appear to contravene the way that boats are being built to comply with the Recreational Craft Directive, or that may appear to conflict with a supporting ISO standard; and more recently,
  5. in a need to explain the checks to new entrants, the development of the new BSS Examiner Training Programme learning material also influenced the final changes.

A considerable amount of detailed work by members of the BSS Technical Committee on accepting or refining the proposals drawn up by consultants to, and staff of the BSS.

At the next stage a sub-group of BSS Advisory Committee considered each developed proposal for change against the following terms of reference:

  • Does each proposed change make sense?
  • Does each proposed change support the aim of the project as set out above?
  • Can each proposed change be applied consistently in the field?
  • Are there any unforeseen consequences associated with each proposed change?

Impact of the changes

In broad terms, the impact of the changes can be described as follows:

  • several technical changes involving a slight relaxation of the BSS Requirements or the addition of further compliance options; and,
  • a large number of purely editorial changes, to help everyone’s understanding of the BSS Checks aiding greater consistency by BSS Examiners and increased compliance by boat owners and assisting the marine trade with understanding of the requirements.
    • Splitting of Checks
    • Merging of Checks
    • Swapping some Check numbers
    • Editing of check text, checking actions, requirements, and appendices
  • An expansion of supporting information in the BSS ECP Appendices from 18 to 78 pages covering processes, procedures and the BSS Checks
  • Deletion of a small number of checks
  • one additional feature as part of BSS Requirement affecting a very small number of trail-boats (Wilderness Boats) with LPG fridges - Check 8.2.2; owners are being contacted directly via the owners association
  • One other amendment concerns the clarification concerning allowable materials for fittings, joints and components used in gas piping installations. The two allowable materials are brass and stainless steel specifically. This means that ferrous/cast iron joints are not compliant, and this represents a re-iteration of the BSS requirements from the introduction of the BSS – see more details in the section below.

Naturally it is crucial that BSS Examiners need a keen understanding of the key changes of the revised Checks to help ensure the improved Checks are applied consistently. So all Examiners undertook an online course, introducing and explaining the revised ECP.

We predict that the improvements will have a very positive impact on the level of consistency of the application of the Checks by existing BSS Examiners, and will significantly improve the uptake of knowledge and understanding of trainees going through the New Examiner entry training programme.

Feedback

While there have been several levels of checking and reviews to get the documents to this stage, with such a complicated process it is almost inevitable that some errors have crept in.

So we appreciate just how eagle-eyed some examiners are and therefore just before the consultation version of these revised Examination Checking procedure goes live, we will open a Survey Monkey feedback form intended for identifying typos, grammar errors, slips and inconsistencies.

Re-examinations

Re-examinations of boats originally found to be non-compliant using the 2015 version of the ECPs and it is within 3-months of the original examination, apply the conditions set out in the re-examination guidance, but the examination, using the new ECP, can be limited to those items as described by the condition in the policy including those the BSS Examiner decided were not verified, or not compliant. i.e. within the scope of the 3-month policy, a whole new examination of the boat is not required solely because the ECP have been amend between initial examination and the re-examination.

Gas piping installations – BSS Check items 7.8.1R and 7.8.3R

Check 7.8.1R now refers to ‘pipes’ instead of ‘pipework’ - Are the LPG pipes made of a suitable material, adequately secured and free from damage? This is because we have a specific check for joints and fittings at 7.8.3R - Are all LPG pipe joints accessible for inspection and of the correct type?

Ferrous or cast iron pipes have always been non-compliant at this check and its predecessors since the inception of  the BSS Standards in 1997.

From 2005 to the end of September 2021, Check 7.8.3 used to say

  • All LPG pipe joints must be accessible for inspection.
  • All LPG pipe joints must be compression fittings on copper pipework or compression or screwed fittings on copper alloy or stainless steel pipework.

The check compliance requirements are now described in this way:

All LPG pipe joints must be accessible for inspection.

All LPG pipe joints used on copper or copper nickel alloy pipe must be:

  • brass compression joints; or,
  • brass threaded joints. [new allowance]

All LPG pipe joints used on stainless steel pipe must be:

  • stainless steel compression joints; or,
  • stainless steel threaded joints; or,
  • stainless steel welded joints. [new allowance]

This specifically limits the materials to the stated metals fitted to the relevant pipe type and introduces two new joint making options – one each for brass and stainless steel.

This aligns the check with the two harmonised standards used in CE & CA marked boats with gas systems installed. Both ISO 10239 and PD 5482-3 are specific in only allowing brass and stainless steel.

Both the ISO and the PD mentioned above exclude ferrous iron gas fittings as being unacceptable on boats for a number of risk-based reasons including:

  1. General corrosion of the ferrous metal (inside the fitting that may not be visible on the exterior of the fitting)
  2. Corrosion due to electrolytic (dissimilar metal) corrosion (within the fittings connections that may not be visible on the exterior of the fitting)
  3. Differential expansion and contraction (leading to pulled and leaking joints)

It also returns the BSS private boat requirement to where it was between the years 1997 to March 2005 which said: -

Visually check each joint is made as follows:

  • copper pipework - compression fittings;
  • stainless steel or copper alloy pipework – compression or screwed fittings.

While the 2021 version of 7.8.3R allows two additional joint making options, it in effect, disallows the use of ferrous iron or cast-iron joints and fittings, examples can be seen in the images below.

   

It is estimated that 100-200 boats, possibly less, would be affected by the clarification and disallowance of ferrous iron materials in LPG pipe joints.

It is likely that boats affected will be narrowboats built in the 1970s and 80s, or Dutch barges, and most commonly at the point that gas pipes exit the LPG cylinder locker such as seen in Figure 1.

LPG fridges on Wilderness trail boats – BSS Check 8.2.2R

The Check text now reads:

On petrol-engined vessels with a Wilderness Boats conversion of an Electrolux RM 212 refrigerator on board, are the burner enclosure and the flame arrestor at the ‘lazy tee’ in place, and is there suitable documentary evidence of recent servicing?

And the new element is for evidence of servicing:

There must be documentary evidence that the refrigerator has been serviced by Wilderness Boats or a Gas Safe registered engineer within the previous 12 months of the date of the Examination.

In considering this change, we have liaised with the designer and original producer of Wilderness Boats who continues to be involved with the Wilderness Boat Owners group.

The risk reason driving the change is that Wilderness Boat converted fridges are now 20-30 years old or even older, and some Wilderness Boat owners are reportedly removing the fridges as they are finding it difficult to have the appliance maintained correctly.

Given the high level of risk associated with a failure of the flame arresting enclosures around the burners and flue (two explosions in the past 12 months caused by LPG fridges on petrol powered boats indicates the risk level), so requiring these fridges to be serviced by a competent person within the preceding 12 months before BSS Examination is seen by the stakeholders, including the Wilderness boat Owners group, to be a modest and reasonable risk control measure.

As the Check now focuses on Wilderness Boat fridges, the Requirement can be more specific in terms of the flame arresting components.  This new approach will assist with Examiner application of the Check.

It is likely to apply to no more than 60-70 boats, possibly far fewer.

Moving these amended BSS Checks forward

Reasonable arguments could be made as to whether the new text at 7.8.3R combined with the text change at 7.8.1R represents a clarification, a reintroduction, or an additional BSS Requirement

However, in the interests of openness and transparency, and to be seen to duly diligent, we have a public consultation between mid-December 2021 and mid-February 2022 under consideration.

Therefore in this interim and pending any consultation and its result, if an Examiner encounters gas piping joints that are ferrous iron or a gas fridge on a wilderness boat that has not been serviced, the examiner will be asked to contact the BSS Office for further advice.

The Consultation will be published on the BSS website and we will ask our stakeholders to make members and customers aware.

The final post consultation agreed version of the new Core Examination Checking Procedures (for Private boats and Hire Boats) will be published in Spring 2022.

Further Information

All the current relevant to introduce the new documentation link to the revised ECPs is available below

The first seven pages of this document outline the review process adopted and explain the outcomes.

  • Public version of the ECP, Private Boat Checklist and ECP Appendices – see the link to the Private Boats Requirements webpage
  • Hire Boat Requirements Examination Record Form pad artwork incorporating the relevant core Checks
  • New Warning Notice form which has changed format from A5 landscape to A4 portrait for better visibility.