Victorian public housing tenants will be safer this winter with the Andrews Labor Government on track to complete a full replacement of all Vulcan/Pyrox heaters in time for the cold season.
Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said the work to replace all 6,525 public housing heaters installed in public housing properties was set to be ticked off by the end of May, with more than 5,700 heaters removed already.
Energy Safe Victoria and the Australian Gas Association advised that Vulcan/Pyrox open flue gas heaters could be dangerous and the heaters were withdrawn from sale after the tragic death of 62-year-old Sonia Sofianopoulos from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The issue affects both public housing and private residents. All Victorians are urged to get their gas heater serviced before winter to ensure they are safe from carbon monoxide poisoning and other faults.
Though carbon monoxide poisoning is not always fatal, people can suffer long-term health effects from lower level but chronic exposure to the toxic gas.
As well as replacing the Vulcan/Pyrox gas heaters, the Labor Government has inspected an additional 24,000 gas heaters and replaced a further 7,400 heaters. Tenants were supplied with portable electric heaters last winter during the replacement program, with rental discounts to offset increased power bills.
In further precautionary measure, carbon monoxide alarms have been installed in all public housing homes where a gas heater is present, with more than 25,300 alarms keeping residents safer.
The coroner has recommended open flue heaters be phased out. Open flue heaters should only be used in well ventilated spaces.
As noted by Minister for Housing Richard Wynne
“Replacing these heaters is part of being a responsible landlord – we urge all landlords and home owners to get gas heaters serviced before winter.”
“This has been a big project and I thank the public housing tenants who have been patient and understanding while this crucial work has been underway to keep them safe.”
“Thousands of new heaters as well as carbon monoxide alarms will help keep our public housing tenants warm and safe this winter.”