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Ghanbari Champions Restoring Boiler Operators License to Enhance Public Safety

July 14, 2021
Haraz N. Ghanbari News
A sheriff deputy secures the scene following the explosion of an antique steam-powered tractor at the Medina County Fair, Sunday, July 29, 2001, in Medina, Ohio. The explosion killed four men and injured about 50 people after the blast hurled hot oil and shrapnel up to 100 yards (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

State Rep. Haraz N. Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) championed restoring the historical boiler operators license and the Historical Boilers Licensing Board that will ensure proper education, training, and implementation of public safety. Ghanbari fought for the new language and it was put into House Bill 110, which is the two-year state budget bill recently signed into law.

“As a news photographer in 2001, I saw first-hand the aftermath of a steam engine explosion at the Medina County fairgrounds that tragically took the lives of five individuals and injured many others,” said Ghanbari. “As a result, our state established the Historical Boilers Licensing Board that created a licensing program for historical boiler operators that would help prevent such horrible incidents from occurring. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get these provisions restored to re-establish the Board and the licensing program for the betterment of public safety.”

An Associated Press news report from 2001 described the incident that claimed the lives of four men and injured 50 people as a blast that hurled hot oil and shrapnel up to 100 yards on the eve of the opening of the 156th Medina Fair. A fifth person subsequently passed away due to their injuries. The annual event at the time drew around 120,000 people.

After an occupational license review report in 2019, a bill was introduced and signed into law during the previous General Assembly that eliminated both the Board and the boiler operators license and transferred the duties to the Division of Industrial Compliance through the Department of Commerce. Ghanbari voted against the measure in the 133rd General Assembly.

Since then, Ghanbari has worked with former members of the board and other elected officials to push for provisions that restore both the Board and boiler operators license.

Jim Lashaway, a mechanical engineer and former chairman of the Historical Boilers Licensing Board, stated that local officials were very efficient at getting the language put into the budget bill to reinstate these public safety measures.

“The historical licensing of operators was a very important thing that was originally the law, and now it has been brought back,” said Lashaway. “Representatives Ghanbari, Ray and Kick have all been instrumental in reinstating the original language of the law that was in place since 2002 that includes the operators license for public safety – they’re manually operated boilers and it’s critical they understand what needs to be done for the safety of this machinery.”

Lashaway also highlighted the upcoming Five Points Steam Threshers event in Wood County scheduled for Sunday, July 18, weather permitting. The event features how historical agriculture crops were harvested with steam tractors and antique machinery – the historical boilers are on the steam engines for this purpose. Throughout the state of Ohio, several similar events involving historical boilers are held.

“With these relevant historical boiler events being put-on across the state, we must protect the public and these reinstated laws surrounding boilers licensing will help make that happen,” Ghanbari added.