Safety is Our Top Priority



We all know our Safety Program will not guarantee absolute safety. There is much more to it than that. We must all pay attention, be wary of distractions, and watch our gages, fire and fuel. We also need to meet all the normal regulations for boats, even though we may rarely get more than a few hundred feet from the dock. This will help our government regulators concentrate on other matters and demonstrate from our documentation and records that specific legislation is unwarranted.


Here’s to happy and safe steaming!


Michael Cross

Safety Committee Chair

Snohomish, WA

Phone: (425) 280-4916





On July 29, 2001, a 110 HP Case traction engine exploded at a fairground in Medina, Ohio, killing five and injuring forty-seven others. Operator error was determined as the primary cause. Because of the media attention given to this event, many hobby live steam organizations throughout the USA were concerned that strict regulatory measures might be imposed by government agencies. In the preface to the NWSS Guidelines for Operating Safety in our Hobby (G.O.S.H.), the following statement summed up a part of our concern:


" it or not, both the boating world and the world of hobby steam are becoming increasingly regulated. There is a growing risk of hobby steamboating becoming subject to unsuitable regulations made by people who don't understand its nature or scale. Because of the duration of its existence and expertise of its members, the NWSS has the opportunity to demonstrate that we take seriously those matters which potential regulators may believe require attention. Hopefully this proactive stance will allow us input in any future discussions of proposed regulations."


Since the publication of the G.O.S.H, we have provided a copy to each member of the NWSS, made printed copies available to others through our "Slop Chest" store, and online here. Response has been favorable and one organization, the Steamboat Association of Australia, even requested (and received) permission to make it available to their membership.


At the March 2010, Annual General Meeting. The Membership decided that a Safety Committee, under the supervision of the Board of Directors, should be formed to check the safety of the steamboat boilers belonging to NWSS members - if individual members wish to have this done. The check is optional, but only steamboats that have a valid NWSS Safety Certificate will be allowed to participate in NWSS sanctioned meets. Further, the Board of Directors resolved to put this safety procedure in place starting with the 2010 Annual NWSS Meet and for all NWSS sanctioned meets thereafter.


To better fulfill these goals and ensure uniformity, at its quarterly meeting on January 14, 2012, and after substantial discussion, the Board of Directors adopted the Boiler Safety Check Procedure and its accompanying documents. Naturally, this procedure will be amended from time to time and any changes will be noted.


The statement below comes from the Board's minutes of the April 14, 2012, meeting and reflects their views.



Why Have A NWSS Safety Program?


The obvious reasons are the operative reasons. It simply makes good sense for a society of people who own and run live steam engines, to include safety standards for the well-being of themselves, each other and their guests. And it enhances the NWSS’ reputation to be known as a club that maintains an active Safety Program. To that end, the Safety Committee has compiled a checklist of boiler and plumbing items that should be tested at least annually. Moreover, the Safety Committee has a program whereby a Witness, experienced in the building or operating of steam equipment, will annually vouch for a successful testing of members' steam equipment. The service is complimentary. Safety testing is one of the privileges and responsibilities of membership.



Boiler Safety Check Procedure


Prior to the safety check, it is suggested that the owner first obtain a FREE online copy of the Guidelines for Operating Safety in our Hobby (pages 35 though 38 are the basis for our boiler safety check procedure) as well as the current NWSS-04-14-12-Annual Safety Check Guide.pdfor pre-safety check preparation and the procedure currently in effect.


  1. Contact a Safety Committee Member from the list on the right of this page to be the Witness for your Annual Safety Check.

  2. Set up a date and time to have the procedure witnessed.

  3. When successfully completed a NWSS-03-27-12-Safety Certificate will be given to the boat owner by the Witness and the information thereon will be promptly filed with the NWSS Safety Committee Records Manager by the Witness.

  4. The Safety Committee Records Manager will file a quarterly report to the NWSS Board and, upon request, will make a listing of inspected boats available to chairperson of any NWSS sanctioned event. This Certificate will be valid for one calendar year from the date of the procedure. At this time no charge or fee is contemplated.


The Boiler Safety Check Procedure was first approved at the January 14, 2012, Board of Directors Meeting. Since that time the Boiler Safety Check Procedure and its accompanying .pdf files have been modified on several occasions. The latest modification to this Procedure was on April 14, 2012; the latest modification to the Annual Safety Check Guide is contained in the name - NWSS-XX-XX-XX-Annual Safety Check Guide, where "XX-XX-XX" is the revision date of the document. Please verify that you have the latest Annual Safety Check Guide before proceeding with your pre-safety check preparation.


Constructive criticism is encouraged that we may improve these guidelines and impose as little as possible on members. Please send your comments to Safety Committee Chair, Michael Cross.

Safety Committee:

The NWSS Board of Directors has determined that the there will be four (4) or more Safety Committee Members in place at any given time, any one of whom could witness and certify a vessel's safety procedure in writing. A list of the names, locations, and contact information of those Safety Committee Members is below.


This certification process, though not legally recognized, will hopefully indicate to any legal governmental regulatory body that the NWSS has a program in place for monitoring the operation of steam-powered boats at any of its activities, which are attended by the public, and that the Northwest Steam Society has an overwhelming and sincere desire to protect the public, and our members, from possible harm.

If there is no NWSS Safety Inspector in your area, please feel free to contact the person closest to you, (many are willing to travel). Also remember, you are very welcome to come to a meet, even if your boat hasn't been inspected ahead of time, and have it inspected at the meet by any inspector in attendance. 


Current NWSS Safety Committee Members:


Michael Cross

Safety Committee Chair
Snohomish, WA
Phone: (425)


Wayne Breidford

Safety Records
Seattle, WA
Phone: (206) 321-3332

Norm Davis
3928 Franklin Avenue

Astoria, OR 97103-2440
Phone: (503) 338-6174


Tom Apps

Kelowna, BC CANADA

Phone: (250) 868-8200


Tim Bardell 

Sunnyside, WA

Phone: (509) 830-7383


Allan Crook
Phone: (604) 869-6059


Al Dunlap
Spokane, WA
Phone: (509) 443-1825

Ryan Handel

Bellingham, WA

Phone: (360) 739-5341



David Hogan
Everson, WA
Phone: (360) 966-2274


John Hope
Seattle, WA

Phone: (206) 772-6588


LeRoy Mietzner

Hansville, WA

Phone: (360) 638-2343



Jerry Ross
Hansville, WA
Phone: (206) 310-4565