Boiler Operator
Bethesda, MD 
Posted 12 days ago
Job Description

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Salary: $40.12 Per Hour

  • H&W Rate: $4.57/hour worked, up to 40 hours per week
    • This position is Service Contract Act which is subject to Health & Welfare benefits


The purpose of this position is to serve at the journeyman level in operation, troubleshooting, minor maintenance and repair of the high pressure boilers, centrifugal, refrigeration units, air compressors, and their associated auxiliary equipment. Incumbent performs a range of duties which requires a basic knowledge of high pressure boiler, centrifugal compressor refrigeration and compressed air systems. Incumbent spends approximately 90 % of time as an operator and 10 % in maintenance responsibilities.

This position is located in the Division of Technical Resources (DTR), Office of Research

Facilities (ORF), National Institutes of Health (NIH). The position performs work at the Bethesda Campus, MD. The Central Utility Plant operates and maintains: five industrial high pressure steam boilers, each producing 150,000 - 200,000 pounds of steam per hour at 165 psig., for a total steam plant capacity of 800,000 pounds of steam per hour: twelve electrically/steam driven industrial centrifugal refrigeration units of different manufactures with a 5,000 ton capacity each, for a total plant capacity of 60,000 tons and four centrifugal air compressors, with a capacity of 1500 - 3000 CFM each. This industrial equipment is used to supply steam, chilled water and compressed air utility services to over 50 buildings housing a variety of research and medical facilities, a 470 bed research hospital and other administrative buildings located on the NIH reservation.


  • As a boiler plant operator on a rotating shift, incumbent starts, stops, (mechanically or manually) adjusts, maintains and repairs all the multiple boilers and associated auxiliary and pollution control equipment which includes: forced and induced draft fans, feed water pumps, condensate pumps, high pressure water pumps, deaerating equipment, etc. Incumbent observes and controls at the central control board. This position regularly observes and notes readings of draft and flue gauges, steam production recorder, pressure gauges, steam production recorder, boiler water level indicators, feed water flow and pressure, and flame detectors. The operation adjusts control to assure proper steam and oil mixture on burners to achieve maximum combustion efficiency in compliance with air pollution laws and produce steam required to meet load demands.
  • Incumbent starts, stops, operates, adjusts, maintains and repairs large electrically driven refrigeration units and associated auxiliary equipment including cooling towers, pumps, steam reduction stations, etc. The operator assures the proper chilled water temperature for outgoing return water at maximum plant operation or proper chilled water supply. This position troubleshoots operational problems by locating and checking various elements such as those which control low and high side pressure; the temperature of the refrigeration units; the temperature of the liquid and suction lines; and the running time of the various mechanisms.
  • This position operates and maintains three central 1500 - 3000 CFM air compressors, changes oil and filters when necessary. Incumbent tests two 300,000 gallon water softeners and regenerates and adjusts chemicals and water flow when necessary to assure efficiency. The operator receives fuel oil into main tanks (two tanks of 529,000 gallons each) and transfers oil to day tanks and operates necessary equipment to accomplish this. Incumbent verifies that the proper amount of oil is delivered. This position operates sump pump and heating and ventilating equipment in the power plant.
  • Incumbent assists in the organized preventive maintenance and repair activities which includes patching brickwork in boilers, turbining tubes, cleaning and inspecting boiler drums, dismantling pumps, turbines, valves, stream traps, steam lines, water lines, and performing shaft alignments on various equipment. This operator repairs all mechanical equipment as necessary and checks the probability of refrigerant and steam leaks by visual and audible inspections and by applying prescribed test procedures and equipment and by exploration of the probable reasons for equipment failure. This position uses all tools, to repair and maintain auxiliary equipment, boilers, refrigeration equipment, air compressors, etc. and maintains a neat, clean, and orderly work area.
  • Incumbent assures that established plant procedures are followed and that all safety precautions are observed. Incumbent conducts a complete physical check of plant on a regular basis during shift where all auxiliary equipment is inspected and checked. The operator remains constantly on the alert to detect malfunctioning equipment, takes necessary steps to check on incinerator equipment, starts, and stops the equipment as necessary. Incumbent operates sump pump and heating and ventilating equipment in the power plant.
  • This operator trains and instructs lower grade employees. Incumbent conforms to all safety rules of the plant and is familiar with all casualty control drills and the Instruction Manual.
  • Incumbent may be assigned as Acting Shift Head during scheduled or emergency leave of the BPO Leader.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned.

Skill and Knowledge:

  • Skill and knowledge to operate all of the equipment and systems in the refrigeration plant and to operate all of the equipment in the boiler plant.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of all operational phases of heating boiler plant operations and their interrelationships for efficient and economical generation of high pressure steam, utilizing microprocessor control systems.
  • Knowledge of the principles of high pressure steam generation including heat evaporation and condensation, heat transfer, conduction, radiation, convention, etc, and of the theories of combustion components CO, O2, H2O, sulfur, etc. and the proper firing of boilers to get maximum combustion efficiency with minimum air pollution. Can apply various methods of analysis of stack gases, boilers, efficiency and corrective measures which should be taken when CO and O2 are out of proper proportion.
  • Skill in the procedures and adjustments necessary to start, stop, adjust and troubleshoot the equipment in the plant to meet load demands and maintain efficient levels of combustion and compliance with air pollution laws.
  • Knowledge of the plant casualty control drills and the correct procedures or actions necessary to avoid a plant shutdown or damage.
  • Ability to read and analyze information from numerous gauges, meters, recorders, analog and digital displays, and computer generated data to determine the operational status of the facility and to make any necessary adjustments.
  • Ability to perform combustion calculation in order to make adjustments to firebox variables such as fuel flow, fuel/air ration, temperatures, and combustion time to control chemical pollutants in the flue gases, and to maintain combustion efficiency.
  • Knowledge and skill to properly operate the various auxiliaries on the steam boilers, such as reciprocating, centrifugal, gear, and rotary pumps, forced and induced draft fans, turbines, bearings, pressure lubricating systems, oil seals, governors, fuel oil heaters, soot blowers, automatic feed water regulators, de-aerators, combustion controls, and numerous other equipment. Has the ability to make proper adjustments to the equipment named, and to diagnose operating problems and make appropriate emergency repairs.
  • Knowledge of the principles and theories of compression refrigeration and the related theories and cycles, such as, heat flow through radiation, convection and conduction specific, sensible, latent and total heat; the refrigeration cycle, compressor surging, heat transfer, laws, the use of the refrigeration tables, and the pressure temperature characteristics of a refrigeration system in order to locate faulty equipment swiftly to reduce inoperative time to a minimum.
  • Knowledge to operate the compressors, pumps and cooling tower to provide the desired chilled water temperature in an efficient and effective manner. Ability to troubleshoot unusual equipment malfunctions using numerous testing techniques, gauges, meters and flow instruments.
  • Ability to find the source of the problem and determine the nature and extent of repairs or adjustments needed quickly and expertly.
  • Knowledge and ability to detect abnormal operating conditions that could seriously damage the unit and take immediate corrective action to change or shut down the unit.
  • Knowledge of the function of the centrifugal compressor, evaporator and condenser sections, cooling towers, hot gas bypass, inter-stage cooler, liquid sub cooling, pumping hydraulics and pumping systems, and how they all operate together to produce chilled water.


The incumbent receives assignments with a minimum of accompanying instructions from the leader concerning the work methods or the materials to be used. The incumbent proceeds on own making independent decisions and judgments concerning the kind and type of work that must be done. The incumbent has responsibility for a variety of different operations and equipment to complete assignments and determines proper work sequence on equipment involving many components. Work requires a reasonable degree of accuracy and precision when dealing with large boilers and refrigeration equipment. The supervisor is available for advice or assistance on very difficult problems, but the incumbent is expected to complete work without undue interruption to the project. Consults with supervisor on problems which are unique, or on administrative problems such as the need for additional equipment. Work is checked generally for continuity of operation and maintenance of plant equipment and effectiveness of work procedures. Both adherence to prescribed timely reading and recording tasks and quick and appropriate response to emergencies prevents possible damage to equipment, excessive smoke, or utility outage with could result in a great loss in research effort at NIH.

Physical Effort:

  • The incumbent frequently works in confined areas in and around boilers and support equipment.
  • e.g., auxiliary and pollution control equipment. Work requires moderate to strenuous physical effort and long periods of walking, kneeling, standing, climbing, bending, and crouching. Frequently lifts and carries boiler parts, equipment, and chemical supplies weighing up to 50 pounds unassisted and occasionally items weighing over 50 pounds with assistance of other workers or weight handling equipment.

Working Conditions:

Employee normally works indoors on concrete surfaces. Occasionally works outside for short periods. Works on catwalks and ladders. Employee is subject to high temperatures, high noise, rotating machinery, soot, dirt, grease, chemicals, oil, and fumes in the work area. May work in bad weather, in mud or snow and in wet or icy areas. Subject to cuts, burns, chemical irritations, or bruises. Exposed to toxic effects of refrigerants and steam temperatures up to 115 degrees. Subject to cuts and abrasions from use of tools and equipment and burns from acids, caustics, and contact with pipes and boilers. Follows prescribed safety practices and uses safety equipment such as protective ear devices, hard hats, and hard toed shoes.


  • This position is subject to rotating shift assignments or irregular work hours.
  • This position is designated an Emergency Essential Position. The incumbent must have a valid state driver's license.
  • A physical examination is required for this position.
  • Incumbent must have and maintain an appropriate security clearance (i.e. Red Badge for entry onto the NIH campus) for this position.
  • Incumbent must have and maintain valid Refrigeration Transition and Recovery Certification.

Dawson is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/VEVRAA federal contractor. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

DAWSON offers a best-in-class benefits program including medical, dental, and vision insurance; a 401(k) program with employer match; paid vacation and sick leave; employer-paid basic life and AD&D insurance; an Employee Assistance Program; and a flexible work environment. Additionally, employees can choose from several voluntary benefits including critical illness coverage; accident insurance; identity theft coverage; pet insurance, and more.

DAWSON gives preference to internal candidates. If no internal candidate meets our qualifications, external candidates will be given consideration.

We are an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. VEVRAA FEDERAL CONTRACTOR


Job Summary
Start Date
As soon as possible
Employment Term and Type
Regular, Full Time
Required Experience
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