Illegal gas fitter 'endangered lives'

Published:  10 July, 2012

An illegal gas fitter who carried out dangerous work on a gas fire in Colchester has been fined over £10,000.

Kevin Cook, 55, trading as Team Electric, installed a gas fire at a house in Rowhedge, Colchester, in August 2010, although he was not registered to undertake gas work and had no experience of doing so.

Colchester Magistrates' Court heard last week that Cook had been undertaking general building work to the property. He then installed the gas fire despite not being a Gas Safe Registered engineer, but was seen by the householders. When questioned he told them a registered engineer had put the gas pipe in and he was just assembling the fire.

A few months after installation the residents noticed the pilot light wasn't working and asked a Gas Safe Registered engineer to service the fire. He classed it as immediately dangerous and disconnected the gas supply. The fire had not been installed in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and the flue had not been connected to the fire, risking carbon monoxide poisoning and potential fatal consequences.

Cook, trading as Team Electric, now temporarily living at Waterville Mews in Colchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulations 3(3) and 27(1) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998.

He was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,753 in costs for the Regulation 3(3) breach. No penalties were imposed for the other charges. In addition, Cook was ordered to pay compensation of £1,644 to the householders.

After the hearing, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Vicky Fletcher said: "Anyone fitting a gas appliance needs to be registered with the appropriate approved body to work legally. Cook defied this requirement and endangered lives with an installation that he was not competent or legally allowed to install. He failed, among other things, to connect the flue to the fire, and as a result he placed the householders and their guests at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.

"Every year around 15 people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. Homeowners should always request ID and check their engineer is properly accredited."

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID which shows who they are and the type of appliances they are qualified to work on.

"We always encourage the public to check the card and, if they have any concerns about the gas safety of any work which is carried out, to speak to us. Every year we inspect and investigate thousands of reports to ensure they are safe and that the work has been carried out by those qualified to do it."

Gas Safe Register can be contacted on 0800 408 5500, or online via their website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Further information about gas safety can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/gas.

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