A ROOFER in Cornwall has received a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 24 months, after leaving a gas appliance flue in an immediately dangerous condition when he removed a chimney stack from a property.
Mark Reski, a self-employed roofer who trades as MR Roofing & Leadwork, was contracted to remove and rebuild a chimney stack on a roof in Fowey, Cornwall.
Truro Crown Court was told the chimney stack was shared between the client’s and a neighbouring property, occupied by a vulnerable elderly woman.
In removing the chimney stack, Reski exposed the flue liner for the gas range in the elderly woman’s property. He left the flue liner unsupported, dangling at an angle and exposed to the elements.
According to the HSE, a flue liner left in this condition would not function correctly, with a high risk of combustion products including carbon monoxide entering the property.
The liner was left in this state for seven days, before it was discovered when a carbon monoxide alarm sounded in the elderly woman’s home.
When the fire service entered her house, their carbon monoxide alarms also sounded, so they ventilated the property and made it safe by isolating the gas supply.
A Gas Safe Registered engineer tested the gas range flue and found it to be spilling dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. He classed the situation as ‘Immediately Dangerous’.
Reski of Bugle, Cornwall pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. As well as the suspended sentence, he was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “It should have been obvious to Mr Reski, an experienced roofer, that the chimney that he was working on was fluing a gas appliance when he exposed the flue liner.
“Mr Reski made no enquiries whatsoever as to what was fluing through the chimney and his actions put an elderly and vulnerable woman’s life in serious danger. It is only by good fortune that she heard an alarm sounding and called for help and so did not suffer potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Builders and roofers should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”