Is it time Northern Ireland had a competent persons scheme?

Following a serious oil tank fire that caused extensive damage to three houses in Dunmurry, just outside Belfast, OFTEC is asking is it time Northern Ireland had a competent persons scheme similar to that currently operating in England and Wales?

Reported in the July issue of Fuel Oil News (pages 4 and 21), the fire is believed to have started in a shed before spreading to an oil tank which ruptured, setting fire to other oil tanks in the near vicinity.

Meanwhile, OFTEC is calling on the Northern Ireland government to introduce mandatory registration for all oil and boiler installers, following the example of the competent persons scheme in England and Wales. This will give householders more security, knowing that their appliances and oil tanks have been installed by a qualified person and they meet building control regulations.

David Blevings, OFTEC said: “Oil tank fires have the potential to be extremely dangerous and, as sadly highlighted in this case, to substantially damage properties. We know that oil is a very safe fuel if stored correctly and the best way to protect yourself and others is to make sure your oil tank and any fuel burning appliances are installed correctly, and inspected and serviced by an OFTEC registered technician at least once a year.”

“OFTEC is reminding householders that registered technicians will check all oil appliances and oil tanks during annual boiler service visits to minimise the risk of such incidents. All tanks should be checked and advice given on how to comply with current building regulations in terms of fire safety and environmental protection. OFTEC technicians are reminded that if the recommended separation distances cannot be met, you can advise consumers to place a fire safety panel(s) that provide a minimum 30-minute fire-resistant wall which extends at least 300mm above and beyond the ends of an oil tank.”