The dangers of open flue boilers have been highlighted by a new report from the Gas Safety Trust, prompting the chairman to call for a new boiler scrappage scheme.
The latest Downstream Incident Data Report, released on 9 September, covers accidental carbon monoxide (CO) incidents in the UK, associated with the use of natural gas and piped liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in the home.
The report found that between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2013, there were 29 incidents reported via RIDDOR, resulting in 62 non-fatal casualties and two fatalities. This is a significant reduction from the 70 to 104 incidents and 21 to 24 fatalities reported annually between 1996 and 2000.
Of the two fatalities reported in 2012/13, one involved the blockage of a chimney serving a gas fire, while the other involved an old open-flued floorstanding boiler that had not been serviced for many years. In fact, the report found that using an open-flued boiler created four times the risk of being involved in a RIDDOR-reportable incident, compared to a room sealed boiler. Both fatalities involved an open-flued appliance.
Once again, a greater number of incidents took place in the private rental sector, where mains natural gas was the fuel, than in any other sector.
This has prompted the Gas Safety Trust to recommend a number of measures to mitigate this risk, including:
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. The Gas Safety Trust therefore believes 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.
Gas Safety Trust chairman, Chris Bielby, said: "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.
"In 2010, the government made funds available as part of a boiler scrappage scheme. As a result, 118,000 households in England benefit from more energy efficient and safer heating appliances. As a result of the findings of this report, the Gas Safety Trust is calling on the government to repeat this scheme, not only to make households in the UK safer but also to help us meet our energy efficiency targets. I will be writing to Amber Rudd MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Climate Change, to seek a meeting to discuss this in more detail."
The report was funded by the Gas Safety Trust and prepared by Downstream Gas.