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Engeland: Smart meters a FIRE hazard? BBC Watchdog finds poorly fitted meters ...
27 juli 2017
FIRE RISK Are smart meters a FIRE hazard? BBC Watchdog investigation finds poorly fitted meters may have started blazes
One family claims engineer told them, “Sorry, I’ve blown up your house”
By Zlata Rodionova, Digital Consumer Reporter
POORLY fitted energy meters are believed to have started a number of fires in home, potentially putting millions of households at risk, an investigation has found.
The big energy companies have been tasked with installing 53 million smart meters in all homes and small businesses by 2020.
But tenants and homeowners told the BBC One’s Watchdog that they had to live in caravans and lost their homes following fires that they believe occurred because meters were not installed correctly.
These consumers claims energy companies are not taking responsibilities for the fires.
Paul and Lou Lynch from Enfield, told the programme that their tenant witnessed a British Gas engineer installing a smart meter in their flat get into difficulty during the installation before the flat went up in flames.
Paul told the BBC the experience was “devastating” and that seven months later the couple was still in the same position.
He said: “Both myself and the fire officer were standing together when the gas engineer installing the meter turned round and said ‘I am really sorry, I’ve blown up your house’.”
British Gas told the programme: “We operate to the highest possible safety standards, as safety is our number one priority. Smart meters are safe, and our processes for installing them are industry-leading.”
Marina Devall from North Wales, also witnessed how the house she rents burned down. Ms Devall has been living in a caravan with her partner for the past three months since the incident, according to the BBC.
The fire service confirmed that the fire began at her electrical distribution board and her energy provider Ovo Energy, who had installed a smart meter 6 months previously, launched a full investigation and provided the caravan for her to live in.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of trade body Energy UK, said that health and safety is the industry’s number one priority.
He said: “Irrespective of any deadline, energy companies will always ensure installations are carried out to the highest safety standards.
“In fact, in many cases installers are actually highlighting potential safety issues within peoples’ homes by identifying faulty appliances, with 18,000 safety notices issued this year alone.”
But consumers are questioning whether these installations are taking place safely, amid fears the Government’s roll-out target is unrealistic.
Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com told the Sun Online: “Smart meters have the potential to revolutionise how we use energy and will make bills cheaper in the long run.
“But poorly installed meters could be potentially dangerous. Government and suppliers are responsible for ensuring that smart meters are installed by qualified engineers who are not under pressure to install too many too quickly.”
Following the BBC investigation, Derek Thomas MP, who sat on the House of Common Science and Technology Committee, told the programme that it is fair to say that the energy suppliers are under pressure from the government’s timetable.
“If there’s any indication that safety is compromised in someone’s home then that’s got to be looked at. We can’t ignore that,” he said.
“The government have nothing to lose by setting up a review, with OFGEM, to look at the safety implications around delivering this programme and how it affects peoples’ homes,” he added.
A pokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told the Sun Online: “The public’s safety is the number one priority for Government.
“We work together with energy suppliers and network operators to continuously review safety trends and have seen no evidence of increasing safety risks. Engineers undergo extensive training and the roll-out is a unique opportunity to improve safety by dealing with potential issues around older meters and connections.”
According to data from UK charity, Electrical Safety First (ESF), almost 2,000 fires have been caused by domestic electrical goods in England – the equivalent of more than five a day.
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