Gas danger fears as 800 families have close call

HUNDREDS of city families have escaped potentially fatal gas-related incidents, it has emerged, as engineers branded Edinburgh the UK hotspot for explosions, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas appliances require regular servicing. Picture: TSPL

In the last year more than 800 families have had near-fatal gas-related incidents thanks to unsafe appliances, according to a survey by Gas Safe engineers.

One in three Edinburgh families are said to own such an appliance, with the primary culprit being a dangerous boiler. Some 57 per cent of homes surveyed in the past year were found to be in possession of a faulty boiler, cooker or fire that needed shut down immediately.

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And nearly half of those surveyed admitted to failing to get their gas appliance regularly serviced – making Edinburgh the highest-risk area in the UK for gas safety.

The risk is slightly lower in Glasgow, where one in four families were found to be in danger.

Russell Kramer, the chief executive for Gas Register, said: “Over the past three years, there’s been 31 deaths and over 1000 injuries [in the UK] that have resulted from gas-related incidents.

“However, listening to our engineers tell us about the situations they face on a daily basis, and hearing just how many life-threatening incidents they prevent, it’s surprising there haven’t been more.”

Over the course of the last year, Scotia Gas Networks has found more than 8150 unsafe gas appliances at emergency call-outs across Lothians. To bring that number down, engineers are now calling on home owners to ensure their appliances are being regularly serviced by registered technicians.

Families have also been warned to be on the lookout for warning signs that appliances may be faulty – including a lazy yellow flame, black marks or stains around the appliance, or too much condensation in the room.

Engineer Christopher Darby said the implications of missing those warning signs can be dire. “It’s scary to see every day how many people are in danger and don’t even realise it,” he said. “Just earlier this year, one of my customers started complaining of headaches and dizziness, and had to call out an ambulance as she collapsed.

“It turns out carbon monoxide was leaking into her property from a gas wall heater that hadn’t been regularly serviced. It could have been fatal.”

Shoddy work by unqualified gas engineers could prove equally disastrous.

Susie Mearns, 45, of Livingston, lost more than £10,000 when her entire home was condemned because an unregistered technician had attempted to install her new gas system.

She said: “I had to move out of my house and pay for someone to come in and redo everything. People need to be very wary about asking for qualifications or it could end up being a costly mistake.”