Today’s Editorial June 12: Gas no laughing matter

For the fourth time in the past year, there has been a gas explosion in a home caused by the improper installation of a stove using propane fuel.

People at the Planning Department are very concerned about what seems to be a large number of improper installations of appliances that use propane gas. They fear it is only a matter of time before someone is killed in a gas explosion.

Although propane is considered a very safe fuel, as is the case with any energy source, it must be handled safely and supplied properly.

People who don’t know what they’re doing should not be trying to save a few dollars by doing self-installation of major propane appliances, especially those used indoors where the gas fumes can accumulate.

Even outdoor grills can be dangerous if not installed, used and maintained properly. Over the years, there have been many singed eyebrows of people who don’t read the instructions and safety warnings on barbeque grills and who do things like open gas valves while the grill hood is closed.

Although you don’t need an inspection from the Building Control Unit to hook up a barbeque grill, the Planning Department does require that indoor propane installations be inspected before use. Unfortunately, many landlords, tenants and homeowners are choosing to ignore the law.

One of the problems is that there is no enforceable penalty for failing to get the proper inspection from the Building Control Unit. Hooking up indoor propane appliances where there was no pre-existing gas pipeline installed could be dangerous for do-it-yourselfers, as has been shown by the four explosions in the past year.

Some of the mistakes being made are very basic, like having the propane tanks stored indoors near a source of ignition. Although some people fear their propane tanks will be stolen if they are outside, they should nonetheless always be kept outside. There are ways to strap large propane tanks to structures to deter thieves.

In the most recent incident in West Bay, not only was the propane tank stored indoors under the stove, it was not maintained properly and had an incorrect connector. The explosion that occurred injured two people, but it could have easily killed someone.

If people are going to continue to use propane improperly, perhaps the government needs to step in and create significant penalties for those who don’t get the required inspections.

We would hope such measures would not be necessary, but it seems some people need to be protected from themselves.