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Report Warns Of Dangers Of Open Flue Boilers

Gas Safety Trust urges regular servicing and the reintroduction of a government scrappage scheme

The publication of the latest Downstream Incident Data Report covering accidental carbon monoxide (CO) incidents in Great Britain associated with the use of natural gas and piped Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the home is now available.

Funded by the Gas Safety Trust (GST) and prepared by Downstream Gas, it found that during the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 there were 29 incidents reported via RIDDOR resulting in 62
non-fatal casualties and two fatalities. This represents a significant reduction from the 70 to 104 incidents and 21 to 24 fatalities reported annually during the period 1996 to 2000. Of the two fatalities reported in this period, one involved the blockage of a chimney serving a gas fire, while the other was an old open flued floor-standing boiler that had not been serviced for many years.

The report noted that ‘once again’ the private rental sector was involved in a greater number of incidents, where mains natural gas was the fuel, than any other sector. GST believes that a number of measures could be taken to mitigate this risk, including:

  • Requiring an operative to make a combustion performance measurement on open flued boilers and warm air units when carrying out a Landlord’s Safety Check.
  • Requiring CO alarms to be installed with a record made of details on the Landlord’s Safety Check form.
  • Promoting or even requiring regular servicing of appliances.

Open flued appliances also figured highly in the number of CO incidents reported. The report found that using an open flued boiler represented over four times the risk of being involved in a RIDDOR reportable incident compared to a room-sealed boiler. It is noticeable that this is a trend that has continued since the collation of detailed CO incident data began and the report notes that both recorded fatalities involved an open flued appliance. GST argues that this highlights the importance of regularly servicing opened flued appliances.

The report also found that a lack of servicing or sub-standard servicing was the most frequently reported, preventable contributory factor in a gas related incident. Its recommendation is that owner occupiers and private landlords should be aware of the importance of regular servicing in accordance with British Standards and the appliance manufacturers’ instructions.

In 2010, the government made funds available as part of a boiler scrappage scheme. As a result, 118,000 households in England benefited from more energy efficient and safer heating appliances. Following the findings of this latest report, GST is calling on the government to repeat this scheme, not only to make households in the UK safer but also to help meet energy efficiency targets.

“While the continued low rate of reported fatalities related to carbon monoxide associated with the use of natural gas is welcome, we are very concerned by the number of incidents where open flued appliances have been involved, explained Chris Bielby, Chair, GST.

 

Caption            The latest Downstream Incident Data Report states owner occupiers and private landlords should be aware of the importance of regular servicing in accordance with British Standards and the appliance manufacturers’ instructions.

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