Belfast Telegraph

Killer gas alarms a must to save lives

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has called for carbon monoxide alarms to be made mandatory with the installation of gas heating following the funerals of the Newtownabbey teenagers who died at a Castlerock apartment last week.

Hundreds turned out at the funerals of Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson on Saturday and Monday.

Afterwards, Mr Dodds said: “The public reaction to these deaths has been one of shock and deepest sympathy for the families of these young men, and I share fully in that.

“The Public Health Agency has rightly urged people to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and has recommended installation of an audible carbon monoxide alarm that meets British or European standards.

“It is a shortcoming in current legislation that such an alarm is not a mandatory requirement,” he stressed.

He said carbon monoxide alarms should be mandatory when installing gas heating, just as building control requires smoke detectors to be mandatory.

“It is important that owners of gas heating maintain the system annually, or as recommended, to ensure fuel is burning cleanly and efficiently and there is no risk of danger,” added Mr Dodds.

Landlords too, he said, must provide tenants with up-to-date gas safety records.

Earlier this year Mr Dodds and other DUP MP’s signed an early day motion calling on the UK Government to renew its efforts to warn the public of the dangers of carbon monoxide leakage.

The only survivor of the Castlerock gas tragedy Matthew Gaw, 18, is still recovering.

Newtownabbey DUP councillor, Billy Ball, said Matthew was “in shock”.

“A tragedy like this shows |the importance of people having monitors in their homes. If they aren't made compulsory then there could be more unfortunate deaths.”

Mr Ball said he has sought advice from MEP Diane Dodds on possible sources of European funding to help people purchase alarms.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is produced when fossil fuels such as gas, coal, oil, wood, petrol and paraffin burn without enough oxygen.

It is a colourless, tasteless, odourless gas that is non-irritating and therefore difficult to detect without an alarm.

The Public Health Agency recommends installing an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm that meets British or European standards (BS Kitemark or EN 50291).

Their spokesperson said alarms cost as little as £20 and can be purchased from large DIY stores and food retail stores.

“Alarms however, should not be used as a substitute for regular servicing of appliances.”

The Heath and Safety Executive has advised anyone who had work done by George Brown of The Calor Shop in Coleraine, to switch off all gas appliances.

A helpline has been set-up for those who fear they may have been affected: 0800 032 0121.

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