Andrew Crown believes direct supply of domestic boilers exclusively to selected Gas Safe registered installers is key to ensuring customer safety, thereby cutting out installers who are not Gas Safe registered.

In view of the increased availability of gas boilers to unqualified and unregistered installers via the internet and alarming media reports of safety hazards resulting from illegal installations, it was crystal clear that incisive action was vital to support the work of the Gas Safe Register and play a part in clamping down on the supply of boilers to unscrupulous individuals.

Undoubtedly, many consumers have unwittingly turned to illegal installers for a cheap boiler replacement solution.

While we acknowledge that consumer awareness of the legislation is important and registered installers need to play their part in getting these messages across, we also need to make it more difficult for illegal installers to get hold of the boilers in the first place.

As boiler manufacturers we realised we could shape a groundbreaking new approach that would prove a catalyst for change.

Being acutely aware of the need for a tide change on industry safety, we reached out to more than 500 UK installers, whom we surveyed in focus groups, via telephone questionnaires and e-surveys, as part of our national installer research consultation.

While the research covered various topics, we tackled the thorny issue of illegal gas work head on. The results speak for themselves:

· A resounding 99% of installers surveyed called for a tougher stance with regard to the sale of boilers to illegal installers.

· More than one-fifth of installers believed they had been personally affected by ‘cowboy’ operators within the last year, leading to loss of work and consumer safety being compromised.

· Another recurring source of irritation was boilers being sold online, meaning that prices were becoming common knowledge.

ATAG Heating Technology’s business model has been developed as a result of installer feedback, and our refusal to sell to non-registered tradespeople - or direct to the consumer - is at the heart of our company ideals.

We believe that our pioneering policy of direct supply, exclusively to selected Gas Safe registered installers, has proved a major breakthrough in raising the bar on safety within the sector.

Andrew Crown is managing director of ATAG’s UK Domestic division, ATAG Heating Technology.