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Jim Pompetti
Jim Pompetti Member Posts: 552
I had a meeting with a lawyer he other day and red tagging came up . My question was "What is my responsibility" . Okay ready for this . If you shut a unit off and there is damage in the house its your fault. If you don't and there a death ,its your fault . You did not tell them HOW dangerous it was. Last year I shut down a system , call the inspector and wrote the the local gas supplier . Both hymned and hauled about what was the right thing to do .The inspector ORDERED me to turn the system back on .I refused and told him to do it .The local supplier showed up after I called the fire company .So what the case in your town?

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  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,046

    Jim, having worked for a mfr. as a product liability mgr. I can assure you if you know of a direct DANGER to the occupants and fail to lock it out by two means requiring a tool or other mechanical means (not simply flipping a switch or opening a gas shutoff) AND provide Full disclosure IN WRITING with the homeowners signature and date, you did not properly warn them. When you advise them, you must not only spell out the hazard such as need to convert to LP, but that failure to convert it will result in fire and loss of life. You must include the consequences or else it is a Failure to Warn.

    If you shut off someone's heat, you must explain in detail why then offer to provide some electric heaters so their pipes won't freeze. Alternatively, they can sign a waiver for the heaters. Don't just walk away without heat. However, if you walk away with the heat on and you know there is an immediate threat to health and safety and there is a personal injury, you could go to jail for gross negligence, willful neglect, etc.

    Once they sign your form and you have them a copy, follow up with a Certified Letter Return Receipt requested. If someone tries to block you from disabling equipment that is an immediate threat to life or fire, you can always call the Fire Marshal. If he turns out to be the problem, you can call the State Fire Marshal's office and the State Attorney General's office. Dont' take any crap from your local AHJ. You have the right to protect your assets and the lives of your customers. Just be darn sure you are correct and it is an immediate threat- not just something that might or could turn bad. Also, learn to use the proper alert words:
    Caution- something might go bad and cause some property damage.
    Warning!- Something likely will go wrong and cause property damage and personal injury.
    Danger!- Someting has gone wrong and is an immediate threat for fire and/ or life safety. Failure to get out or disable will result in severe personal injury or death and fire.
    See how the probability, damage and consequences escalates? These alert words are ANSI approved and come with symbols- yellow, orange and red. Therefore, a Red Tag/ Lock Out should only be done if it meets the criteria for Danger!
  • Jim,

    Darned if you do,, darned if you don`t!
    Everyone tries to point the finger(after the fact), regardless of the consequences we warn about.
    If you can`t get anywhere with the local utility officials, I think you did the right thing contacting the FD.
    I would suggest you always get documentation(proof & never easy to get signed), of why you did what you did, but that may let you off the hook from a lawsuit,, as unfortunate for that person it may be.

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
    Very Thorough Bob

    Are you guys using the NCI "Red Tags" ? they have carbon copies. Bottom line, I'll take my chances on shutting them down. I'd rather be sued for frozen pipe damage than DEATH. If it ever gets that contentious...call in the Police. It ain't easy being a CO Warrior!!!! Mad Dog

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  • Keith_19
    Keith_19 Member Posts: 18

    All of our service slips and installation contracts have a proviso that gives us the right to lock out any equipment that we want. My lawyer went over it and says it's good. Basically it says that we are not responsible for any damage whatsoever that results from a lockout, and that a lockout does not create a financial obligation on the part of the customer. That is, we would not be in the position to extort a person into paying us to turn the equipment back on. Only had to lockout one time. A/C supply plenum in boiler room, thimble blocked and rotted on water heater, co in room 200 PPM. Customer asked me if I could open the window.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    This has been the big problem I have had co testing

    I usually have the ho sign a waiver before I test or get a written refusal. Problem I am having is I have found no place in the code requiring me to test unless the mfg instructions say so.

    Several times I have shut things down and told the ho to call the utility or I bring them in and let them handle it if they are the last one on the issue it is there problem.

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  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,046
    Performance codes?

    There is no concensus on performance codes so you are not required by code per se to test. You are responsible for ensuring the proper installation and operation of the appliance. Let's say you were called to light a pilot but noted the vent connector falling off. Do you report it? Leave without mentioning it? Red Tag and disable the appliance?

    The NCI Red Tag is pretty good in that it gives you a space to describe the problem. However, it should state "Danger!" ---not Warning. Wrong alert word.

    Always tie your Reg Tag to your main report by writing on the tag, "see report #123XYZ dated today for details". That way the homeowner is tied to both documents in writing.

    NCI has a lot of material on marketing your services with sign off sheets, etc. Jim has info. from GAMA that seems to endorse his policies of tinkering with the unit to optimize performance. I'm sure he'll see this thread soon and chime in with better details.
This discussion has been closed.