03 AUG 1993
MEMORANDUM FOR SEE DISTRIBUTION
SUBJECT: Supplemental Guidance for the Boiler Plant Operator Job Grading Standard, 5402
- The purpose of this memorandum is to provide explanatory guidance for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Boiler Plant Operator Job Standard, 5402. The revised 5402 standard was issued in March 1991 and supersedes the supplementary guidance in DA Pamphlet 690-45, Chapter 9 (obsolete).
- The implementation of this standard has resulted in questions, numerous problems, upgrading and downgrading of positions and classification appeal actions. The guidance in this memorandum is to assist management and personnelists in determining the correct grade level of positions evaluated by the 5402 standard. This guidance was developed based on site visits to selected Army power plants and through discussions with the OPM standard writer.
- When a new job-grading standard is issued it normally does not affect the grade of properly classified positions. The issuance of the 5402 standard had been adopted from an U.S. Army standard in use at the time of conversion to Federal Wage System (FWS). OPM later determined that the 5402 grading criteria were not consistent with the FWS key ranking jobs. Grade levels in the previous standard were based on the relative size of the power plant as measured by the amount of steam or equivalent that the boilers produced per hour. The size of the power plant was thought to have a direct relationship to the nature and degree of skills and knowledges required and the responsibilities involved in performing the work. This relationship was not validated during the OPM occupation study.
- Also, the function of the power plant, i.e., heat, air conditioning, hot water, steam for generation of electricity or research purposes does not impact the grade level. The OPM study determined that the operation of the boiler is not changed by the purpose for the plant or the critically of the mission. Since only properly performed work is evaluated in determining grade level, the critically factor did not alter the grading criteria.
- The current standard provides grading criteria for grade levels 8 and 10 and for additional grade for the "operator-in-charge" positions. While grades 8 and 10 are not the only grades of properly classified 5402 positions which do not have the additional responsibility of operator-in-charge, there is no substantiated basis to exceed the 10 grade level.
- To meet the grade 10 level in the 5402 standard, operation of pollution control equipment is required. The boilers are fired by coal, oil, and refuse derived fuel (RDF), wood, or a combination of these fuels. The difficulty to operate these boilers is to maintain combustion efficiency and control pollution while the fuel quality is constantly changing. The grade 10 level does not include gas-fired boilers as OPM determined that gas is a clean burning fuel and does not require constant adjustments to maintain efficient combustion or to maintain acceptable pollution levels.
- Gas is included in the standard as a fuel source at the grade 8 level. A grade 8 boiler plant worker independently starts and adjusts boilers with automatic controls, which are designed to operate without constant attention. An operator who independently operates gas boilers with manual controls, to include starting and stopping, adjusting for load fluctuations, performing chemical treatments, preventative maintenance and emergency repairs could exceed the 8 level and be evaluated at the 9 level. A grade 8 boiler plant worker also assists a higher-graded operator in the operation of boilers (fired by a fuel source other than natural gas), auxiliary and pollution control equipment which require constant attention. Some natural gas boilers have a backup fuel source. If operations with the backup fuel are used on a periodic basis, the position can be evaluated at the 10 level.
- Power plants using fuel source other than natural gas usually have pollution control equipment, which require 10 level skills and knowledge to operate. Where the installation of such equipment is scheduled to be installed in the near future, the associated skills could be considered now in the evaluation of the positions to preclude adversely affecting the employees. The responsibility level is impacted by the operator's independence in making decisions and judgments based on information obtained from a variety of types of observations. The method of observation whether watching as the coal or wood chip loads are being fed into the firebox, monitoring gauges and level indicators, reading written logs or computer printouts, operating an on-line microprocessor or obtaining information from another worker does not impact the responsibility level. For example, the decisions and actions of the operator, the procedures followed and approvals obtained to correct a low water condition on a boiler are indicators of the responsibility level. How the low water condition was noted, whether by looking at a responsibility level.
- At the grade 8 level, the operator follows instructions which outline when to start-up, control and adjust the boiler instructions during the shift, or the instructions may be outlined in a written Standard Operating Procedure or manual. At the grade 8 level, an operator working alone may follow written instructions and then call a supervisor or another operator for assistance or approval when the situation is not covered by previous instructions. Also at this level, the operator may make minor adjustments and repairs and then refer the problem to another location or on repairs without specific instructions or approvals.
- At the grade 10 level, the operator independently makes such decisions, as adjustments to meet load fluctuations, determining repairs needed, emergency procedures and actions to prevent problems in meeting the demand. Written procedures are also available, but at this level, the operator identifies the problems and takes corrective active actions or troubleshoots and initiates repairs without specific instructions or approvals.
- Assigned responsibility levels for small satellite and stand-alone boiler operations typically have closer controls or restrictions on actions taken by the operator when compared to a main power plant. These boilers are designed to operate without constant attention or sometimes support a function, which can experience service interruptions without serious consequences, i.e., a laundry facility or a barracks. Typically in these situations, the operator follows outlined instructions, which may include the procedures to shutdown a malfunctioning boiler and reports problems not covered by instructions to personnel at the main power plant. At most satellite plants. The independence to make decisions is restricted by the type of boiler operation or tighter technical controls and precludes classification at the 10-grade level.
- In addition to providing technical advice and assistance on difficult problems, the "operator-in-charge" has additional responsibilities. When not covered by previous instructions or manuals, this operator has responsibilities such as independently determining in an emergency situation to shut down a boiler, to shut off service to some or all of the customers, and to call in maintenance mechanics. This requires knowledge, in addition to the actual operation of the boiler, of the entire system of cogeneration, steam, hot water, air conditioning, as well as the customer's priorities and schedules. This level is not warranted if a supervisor, while not on duty, is consulted before the decisions are carried out. If the operator-in-charge is available by phone, it is not necessary for him/her to be physically present at the problem site to provide these types of decisions. This additional responsibility is appropriate only for a position in the main power plant.
- Water analysis and treatment are essential to boiler operations and it is not necessary to evaluate these duties by another standard. Also, duties associated with water treatment in a boiler plant would not exceed the grade 8 level by evaluation by the 5409 Water Treatment Plant Operator Job Grading Standard.
- All boiler plant operations should be reviewed to assure the positions are classified consistent with the above guidance. Reviews of the Army's data base indicates that many positions are still evaluated at levels, which are inconsistent with the standard. The 5402 job grading standard is also used to evaluate jobs which have mixed duties and are classified in another Utility Systems Operating; 5415, Air Conditioning Equipment Operating; and 5407, Electric Power Controlling. The revised 5402 standard and this guidance must be applied also to these positions.
- Major commands should continue to monitor the correct application of this standard to preclude a classification consistency review to correct the inconsistencies within Army. Point of contact is
Attachment: Sample Checklist (1 page - PDF form)
JOSEPH E. GALBRAITH
Director, Civilian Personnel Management
OFFICE, SECRETARY OF THE ARMY (JDPES-W)
COMMANDER IN CHIEF
U.S. ARMY EUROPE AND SEVENTH ARMY COMMANDERS
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SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY