Sector urged to take action to ensure open fireplaces are safe

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Fire protection: fireplaces could cause carbon monoxide poisoning if left unchecked
Fire protection: fireplaces could cause carbon monoxide poisoning if left unchecked

Related tags Health and safety Property Fire protection Risk management Death

Operators have been warned to check their pub fireplaces as failing to do so could cause lethal carbon monoxide poisoning.

Breathing in carbon monoxide fumes reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which over time causes cells and organs to die, Flue Liner Solutions has stated.

“All pub premises that have an open fire or wood burner need to understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning”, said director Mike Byrne.

Some 25 people die per year due to inhaling the toxic fumes, according to the NHS. Byrne claims that it is known as “the silent killer” as it is odourless, colourless and tasteless.

The dangers to the building

“Yet a very small percentage of pub landlords and even the larger pub groups are aware of this”, he said.

Byrne advises all hospitality venue owners to ensure they have conducted an annual building survey to pinpoint issues relating to chimneys, flue, liners, dutchwork and drainpipes.

He said: “The situation in a pub with an open kitchen and/or air conditioning units- and an open fireplace- could be more dangerous.

“This is because the kitchen extractor fans can draw fumes from the fireplace into the premises, rather than allowing them to be naturally drawn up the flue which is what should happen.”

Byrne continued: “Due to the nature of corrosive chemicals in flue gases, holes can open up quickly once the integrity of the liner system has become compromised.”

Past incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning

In 2007, 41-year-old landlord Paul Lee died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the Aintree Hotel in Bootle.

The pub chain Enterprise Inns pls was fined £300,000, after Liverpool Crown Court found that necessary gas safety inspections should have been carried out.

In 2010, licensee Roland Jones came close to death from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Butchers Arms in Greens Norton, Northamptonshire.

The pub was closed and plumber jailed when investigations found out that the pub’s gas certificate had been issued fraudulently.

Byrne said: “It is vital to identify any potential safety issues such as the potential for harmful gases to escape into your property or the build-up of potentially dangerous waste.”

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