Advertorial - Raising the bar in boiler room safety

Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager for Bosch Commercial & Industrial, outlines why the company has made CO sensors mandatory on cascade systems.

State of the Art is an important principle for manufacturers designing their products for safety in use. It is a term that will probably be familiar to most people but is not always well understood when it relates to products that we rely upon every day to meet our needs.

As products become established in the market, the economies of scale often mean costs reduce significantly to a point where their use becomes more affordable. We like to think that you can’t put a price on safety, but inevitably the cost benefit ratio must be assessed and balanced if we are to have affordable products that all can benefit from.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) - Detection for higher risk situations

At Bosch we have reached this point with Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection for higher risk situations involving multiple boilers and combined cascade flue headers. Reliable CO detection equipment has become more available and with a wider range of applications.

We will all know from the high-profile CO awareness campaigns run by Gas Safe and other organisations, that CO poisoning is one of the most significant risks in our homes and places of work and leisure. Across Europe as a whole, around 16,000 people die from CO poisoning every year, which is more than succumb to skin cancer. Thankfully only a small proportion around 3% are attributed to gas heating appliances, but this still represents a large number of avoidable fatalities. No wonder then that CO poisoning has been dubbed the Silent Killer. In the UK around 30 accidental fatalities attributed to CO poisoning occur every year.

So, we believe the time has come to require CO detection equipment for higher risk scenarios such as combined flue systems that we commonly find in boiler rooms across the UK. Cascaded appliances have become very popular over the last decade because of their flexibility to be used in multiple applications and ease of installation. This has inevitably increased the number of cascade flue systems that are used each year.

CO detection equipment has evolved to the point where 10-year service life can be expected, meaning intervention is minimal and the effectiveness of an elevated CO level being picked up and not being missed by non-maintained equipment has significantly improved.

Pete Mills of Bosch
Pete Mills of Bosch

But alarms alone are not enough to mitigate the risk, and this is why Bosch has decided to make it mandatory for cascade flue systems to incorporate CO detection together with boiler interlock. This means if CO levels above 50ppm are detected, an alarm will sound but also the boiler interlock will be triggered safely shutting down the gas boilers.

We have begun to supply CO detectors as standard with cascade flue systems and have updated our manufacturer’s instructions to mandate the installation and use of this equipment. We will also require CO detection for use with third party cascade flue systems that might be used with Bosch boilers.

In designing products for safety, all manufacturers must decide whether their products reflect the state of the art that exists at that time and keep the situation under review. Making unilateral decisions to increase the level of safety as the state of the art moves forward is never an easy call, especially when there is some extra work for installers. Bosch has never shied away from these decisions, and we already exceed current standards in a number of other safety related areas for our gas boilers. We hope that by making this move we will prompt the wider industry to adopt CO detection under these circumstances as the norm and thereby raise the bar in boiler room safety.

In conclusion

We feel this step will be significant in providing a leap forward in boiler room safety for an area of flue assembly that has increased massively in the last decade. It will provide additional protection for the installer and consumer during the transition period to low carbon and finally zero carbon gas.

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