THERE ARE an estimated 8,000 public premises in Ireland that have illegally-installed boiler and heating appliances.
The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Ireland say premises include small hotels, bed and breakfasts, youth clubs and hairdressers.
Earlier this year, the APHCI told an Oireachtas committee that an estimated 18,000 illegal boilers have been fitted every year since 2009.
As it has always been reported that these are domestic fuel burning appliances have been installed for domestic purposes, it has always been assumed they have been installed in homes.
And as a result of concern about domestic installations – largely raised by APHCI – the registration and control of installers has been greatly tightened up.
But it has now emerged that thousands of these domestic appliances have also been installed in public premises.
Under the Commission for Energy Regulation’s RGii registration and regulatory scheme, anybody installing a domestic appliance has to be properly certified.
The revelation that dodgy domestic appliances have been installed in public premises comes as the sister of a woman who died of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in a Cork hotel has launched a campaign to legislate for CO gas alarms to be fitted in public premises.
Siobhan Barrett launched the campaign yesterday out of frustration at seeing so little done in the wake of her sister Miriam Reidy’s death in January 2011.
She wants to do what she can to make sure nobody again dies in the same circumstances as her sister, who died from the deadly gas emitted from the hotel’s commercial heating system.
At present, CO alarms only have to be fitted into new build dwellings and commercial premises are not obliged to have them.
APHCI chairman Sean Giffney said last night: ‘It’s very difficult to know the illegal element that are installed in small premises.
‘There are no regulations covering the installation of boilers in commercial premises.
‘We know of commercial premises that have had installed domestic appliances, and as such they come under the control of the RGii certification scheme.
‘But given that we also know the total estimate of illegally installed fuel burning appliances, we believe a small proportion – between 6,000 and 8,000 – of these are used in public premises.
‘This is something that needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency.’
On Mrs Barrett’s campaign, he added: ‘We would support what she is trying to do.
‘We believe these alarms can be put in at a relatively low cost and it’s a commons sense measure we also believe should be legislated for.
Last night, the Restaurants Association of Ireland was the first organisation to show backing for Mrs Barrett’s campaign.
CEO Adrian Cummins said: ‘You have to think about the logistics of something like this.
‘But I can’t see our members objecting to putting in CO alarms if the cost and the science is right and stacks up.
‘We would be delighted to support this initiative if it was brought in on a voluntary basis to begin with to see how it gets one.
‘People in the business community need to be educated about the need for such alarms and that some kind of voluntary code should be agreed to.
‘The government needs to look at this as well, as do the various other business bodies.’
He added: ‘A CO alarm is like a smoke alarm. It’s the same principle.
‘If the costs are at a minimum, I’d say restaurants would do it.’
Owen Wilson, Head of Network Safety, Gas Networks Ireland, said: ‘Carbon Monoxide poisoning is completely preventable.
‘Correct installation, regular maintenance and servicing of fuel burning appliances by a registered technician and safe use of appliances are the best means of keeping your home and business safe.
‘For added protection, Gas Networks Ireland recommend the fitting of one or more audible carbon monoxide alarms.
‘Gas Network Ireland supports a range of initiatives to counteract the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
‘Information campaigns, regular servicing, competency schemes, enforcement of existing codes and new legislation can all play a role in reducing the incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning.’
Do you know anybody who has lost a loved one from carbon monoxide poisoning? Contact randomirish @ icloud . com