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CO legislation and education tops Gas Safety Week launch agenda

MPs seek fresh legislation for the mandatory introduction of CO detectors with gas appliances at rental properties as part of upcoming safety campaign

A cross party group of MPs has committed to push for tighter legislation on carbon monoxide (CO) detection during the parliamentary launch of this year’s Gas Safety Week.

The MPs’ commitments were made alongside stakeholders from industry and the charity sector calling for an extended focus on securing broader heating industry and installer support for education schemes to promote the proper use and maintenance of gas heating systems.

The seventh annual Gas Safety Week event, which runs from run from September 18 – 24, aims to bring together the heating and energy industries, lawmakers, emergency service providers and charities to play up awareness of the dangers from poorly maintained gas appliances.

Speaking during a launch event at the Houses of Parliament, Eddie Hughes MP announced his intention to try and push for new legislation mandating the use of carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke detectors next to fuel burning appliances such as boilers as key ambitions for the next year.

Before the event, the newly elected MP used the parliamentary procedure of the Ten Minute Rule Bill to push for new laws regarding protecting properties and residents of both private and public sector housing from CO poisoning.

Mr Hughes told H&V News that his ten minute bill had three key aims concerning gas safety that fundamentally included the mandatory introduction of CO detectors in private rental sector and social housing.  He also hoped to push to require all new builds to have CO detectors next to any fuel burning appliance and ensure there was a consistent duty on the fire service to educate the public on gas safety.

“Now at the moment they do that anyway, sometimes they give out CO detectors, but as you go across the country that is patchy to say the least.  So that is just an obligation to make sure that all of them do it,” he said.

“I’d never get it to statue on my own.  But the next step is January 19 2018, so I have some time to warm the minister up to be receptive.”

With the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire that is so far confirmed to have killed 80 people launching today, Labour MP Barry Sheerman, the co-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group stressed during yesterday’s launch about a need for new approaches to building safety.

He therefore welcomed Eddie Hughes’ efforts to push for fresh legislation on gas safety as part of a need for “sensible approaches” to building safety on the back of a high profile tragedy such as Grenfell.

“Every home in this country should have a smoke detector and CO alarm.   If it has to be paid by the private sector, the home insurance people or mortgage sellers, I am up for pushing that and I’m sure Eddie and I will do that together,” said Mr Sheerman.

Alongside a legislative focus, concerns were also raised around needing a more multi-faceted approach to raising awareness about CO poisoning and wider gas safety concerns.  This was expected to make use of social media and prominent bloggers, face-to-face initiatives and heating and energy industry engagement with customers.

Paul Hull, the founder and managing director of gas and heating service provider The Industria Group, said that ensuring real change in the industry on safety could not just be the responsibility for organisations such as the Gas Safe Register or larger manufacturers, but must also include installers and other smaller companies.

Mr Hull argued that while big industry considerations such as apprenticeships and training and recognition of the Gas Safe ID Card for installers were essential to ensure better safety standards from heating, there were other key considerations to be addressed.

“Equally important is providing engineers with the tools they need to remind customers about annual servicing and the funding they need to support training and help their businesses grow,” he said.

Increased industry engagement with customers was viewed by Mr Hull as being particularly important to understand how they can extend the lives of their boilers with more regular maintenance at the same time as improving safety in the home.

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