EnergySafe Magazine Summer 2018/19, issue 52 - Page 23 Empowering Victorians to manage open flued gas heaters By Jonathan Granger, Head of Communications and Marketing As well as changes to the regulatory regime, the Coroner’s recommendations from the inquest into the death of Sonia Sofianopoulos also highlighted the importance of raising public awareness of the safety issues around open flued gas heaters. Since the death of Chase and Tyler Robinson in 2010, ESV has called on Victorians to have their gas appliances serviced by a qualified gasfitter at least once every two years through the CO is a Silent Killer campaign. Supported by the boys’ mother and CO awareness campaigner, Vanessa Robinson, the campaign challenged Victorians with its stark image of the ‘cold feet’ of a CO victim. However, the Coroner has recommended that ESV focus the campaign on open flued heaters and the concept of negative pressure. This has led to the development of a new CO awareness campaign designed to empower people to manage their open flued heater. Research showed that the Silent Killer campaign was very effective at making people aware of the dangers of CO, but there still remains a proportion of the population who do not get their heater serviced as recommended – once every two years. To be launched before winter 2019, the new campaign will be designed to empower Victorians to manage their open flued gas heaters. While the call to action will be ‘get your heater serviced’, the campaign will go further, demonstrating how to reduce the risk of CO poisoning. This includes relatively simple actions such as not running exhaust fans, including the kitchen rangehood or the bathroom fan, at the same time as operating an open flued heater, and ensuring there is adequate ventilation. Other recommendations The Coroner’s primary recommendation was that open flued gas heaters were phased out from Victoria, but this is likely to take some time. ESV is working with industry which largely agrees with a phase out but need time to adapt their supply chains to the alternative ‘room- sealed’ options. The Coroner has also asked ESV to publish technical advice on CO spillage testing for gasfitters and plumbers, as well as review how we communicate changes to legislation and regulations. The campaign will also help people understand the symptoms of CO poisoning (which can be similar to flu), as well as the rights of renters when it comes to negotiating the frequency of servicing with landlords. ESV will work with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the VBA, the Department of Health and Human Services, Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Chase and Tyler Foundation to deliver this campaign. ESV will also work with plumbers, gasfitters and other tradespeople (such as electricians) to ensure people are aware of the importance of servicing. The Conorer’s report is available to at findings 23