A registered gas fitter has been ordered to pay more than $10,000 for his potentially deadly connection of a natural gas cooker to a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply, which caused a fireball to erupt when the appliance was used.
Following a prosecution by Building and Energy (formerly EnergySafety), the gas fitter pleaded guilty at Perth Magistrates Court to two breaches of WA’s gas regulations.
On 25 October 2019, Magistrate Tanya Watt issued a fine of $8,500 and awarded costs of $1,553, noting the man was “very fortunate” that the installation did not have more serious consequences such as an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning.
The court was told that in 2017 the gas fitter attended an Applecross unit and removed the property’s existing cooker, which had two labels identifying its gas type as LPG or propane.
He then installed a new cooker that was designed and approved for use only with natural gas, which was stated on the appliance’s official data plate. The court heard that the gas fitter noticed the flames were higher than usual when he tested the new cooker.
The following day, the tenant tried to light the appliance and her hair was singed by a fireball from accumulated gas above the burner.
Director of Energy Safety Saj Abdoolakhan welcomed the significant fine.
“It’s no exaggeration to say this was an extremely hazardous situation that could have resulted in serious injury or death,” he said.
“Natural gas cookers have considerably larger gas injectors compared to those using LPG, causing excessive gas flow in a mismatched installation such as this. This results in bigger flames and the risk of a fireball or explosion from the built-up gas. There is also a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We will continue to hold gas fitters to account if they fail to ensure every part of an installation they work on is safe to use and complies with the regulations and manufacturers’ instructions.”