Tragedy highlights lack of consumer knowledge

Published:  10 May, 2010

DORCHESTER: A tragic case has highlighted the lack of consumer awareness of building regulations. Declan Oliver, 19, installed a woodburning stove with his father Ian to heat the outbuilding that had become his home. A week later he was found dead in his bed after deadly carbon monoxide leaked out.

The flue was the wrong length which meant it could not extract the poisonous gas properly and it leaked out through the front of the stove. At the inquest, Mr Oliver, from Morton, near Dorchester, Dorset, said “The reason we bought the wood burner was it seemed to be a safe, cheap form of heat, quite within the realms of DIY.” The pair fitted the stove in January, but did not have it checked by a qualified installer.

Bruce Allen, chief executive of HETAS, said “whilst most people understand that gas appliances must legally be installed only by Gas Safe registered engineers, the legal requirements for solid fuel and woodburning appliances are unfortunately less well advertised or understood.

“Householders wanting to install solid fuel or woodburning appliances must either apply for a building notice from their local authority building control department; or they must use a registrant of an appropriate competent persons self-certification scheme such as HETAS. I cannot stress strongly enough that to comply with the law, householders must either apply for a building notice, or use a registered installer who can self certify their work."

Mr Allen also urged Gas-Safe and OFTEC registered engineers to make sure they are registered with HETAS if they are fitting any solid fuel, biomass or woodburning appliances. HETAS is the only competent persons scheme specialising in biomass technology, and offers a specific route to registration for Gas-Safe and OFTEC installers.

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