A Brief History of ASME Code and NB Registration

Manufacturers of new propane bulk storage must conform to current ASME code and all new pressure vessels need to be National Board certified.  Here’s why… 

ASME Introduction

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a professional association founded in 1880 in response to numerous steam boiler pressure vessel failures.  Among other things, ASME develops codes and standards for the design and manufacture of mechanical devices.


Pressure Vessel Code

The largest ASME standard is the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC).  The BPVC is an ASME standard that regulates the design and construction of boilers and pressure vessels.

The BPVC was created in response to public outcry after several serious explosions in the state of Massachusetts.  A fire-tube boiler exploded at the Grover Shoe Factory in Brockton, Massachusetts on March 20, 1905 which resulted in the deaths of 58 people and injured 150. Then on December 6, 1906 a boiler in the factory of the P.J. Harney Shoe Company exploded in Lynn, Massachusetts.  As a result, the state of Massachusetts enacted the first legal code based on ASME’s rules for the construction of steam boilers in 1907.

As catastrophic casualties continued, the ASME developed its boiler code in 1914.  While the code provided a solid reference of construction standards, it lacked an important component: the authority to regulate.  This was complicated by the existence of local and state jurisdictions having their own codes and standards.  The result was a patchwork of confusion having no basis in consistency.

National Board

On December 2, 1919, Ohio Chief Inspector Carl Myers met with chief inspectors from other jurisdictions to discuss creation of a board of inspector representatives from each of the existing jurisdictions.  Hence, the genesis of the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors.

In 1921, The National Board developed a system for qualifying inspectors and authorizing manufacturers to stamp a National Board number on inspected boilers.  Registration of a boiler with a National Board number could now be completed with the manufacturer submitting an original manufacturer’s data report (birth certificate) to the National Board for permanent retention.  This document, certified by both the manufacturer and the National Board Commissioned Inspector, gave the chief boiler inspectors of all participating states and cities the assurance they needed to allow a boiler to be installed for operation within their respective jurisdictions.

NB Registration

Today, the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors is composed of chief boiler and pressure vessel inspectors representing states, cities, and provinces enforcing pressure equipment laws and regulations.  The goal of National Board registration is still the same as it was in 1921: provide assurance that a pressure-retaining item was constructed in accordance with the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and that it was inspected by a qualified National Board Commissioned Inspector.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.