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Lofgren case coming to a head...

I know a lot of people have been following this case, and a decision from a judge is due soon regarding the inclusion of the building officials in the lawsuit.



There is also a civil suit being brought by surviving family members. Here is a link to that action.



http://www.scribd.com/doc/57752470/Estates-of-Parker-Lofgren-and-Family-Versus-Marlin-Brown-Et-Al



It WILL get your attention...



ME
It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.

Comments

  • Jim DavisJim Davis Member Posts: 578
    Aspen Case

    I it interesting that as far back as 1977 CPSC indicated that there were not adequate safety shutoffs on equipment should a flue become blocked or disconnected but they denied a petition to mandate any action.  They felt it was up to manufacturers to take on that responsibility.  Obviously this wasn't the first or the last sealed combustion appliance to cause a death.

    In 2009, the chief technical advisor for AHRI (formally GAMA) wrote an article in ACH&R News stating that equipment was safe enough and no attempt should be made in the field to make it safer.  This was a direct attack against me teaching to add additional safety switches in the field. 

    I agree the industry needs to take a universal stand and not fault one manufacturer because they are doing the same thing as everyone else. 

    This also confirms the fact, based on current industry standards, that licensing, taking out permits and getting inspections guarantees nothing if every thing is done the way its always been done. 
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    Worse yet...

    Thanks for chiming in Jim.



    Many houses have these HUGE atmospheric snowmelt boilers (pick a brand) that by law are NOT required to have ANY roll out detection devices on them. Not sure what their thinking is, but I've penned articles asking why it is OK to let these bigger boilers to be unprotected, and I got Z E R O response from ANY boiler manufacturer or standards institute.



    I guess its OK for these appliances to kill people, but not the little ones...



    Wassup wid DAT??



    And if it makes you feel any better, I am writing an article right now that endorses field modifications, with factory approval when possible...



    And we both know how easy it is to get factory permission :-)



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Jim DavisJim Davis Member Posts: 578
    manufacturers permission

    You just have to know how to phrase the question so they are not sure what you are asking!

    Like "Is it okay when we install your boiler we make sure it is operates safely?"

    or "Is it important that we make sure your boiler vents properly?"
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    I am working with

    a local politician to get legislation passed to mandate that all service contractors, installers and gas company personnel be required to install a spill switch on all appliances having draft hoods at the time of any service or emergency call on those appliances. We will see how far it gets.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    Jim Davis or Mark

    have either one of you ever submitted a proposal for insertion into NFPA 54 or International Fuel Gas Code of a code requirement for annual combustion testing, Carbon Monoxide testing.In addition code allowing modification to existing draft hood installation which is not functioning correctly by using a double swing barometric. I am not sure what codes you fall under Mark in Colorado but it might be a good idea to put a proposal together.



    I have over the past 40 years submitted proposals for code change to NFPA and have eventually seen some of them actually make it into the code. It usually takes a few years.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,477
    "Hector the Inspector"

    should be shaking in his boots right now- waiting to see if the judge makes case law that inspectors can be held liable for passing something like this. This happened at the Days Inn in Ocean City, MD in 2006- again with a Munchkin, though I believe HTP was not found liable since the installation was improper. There was plenty of blame to go around, but IIRC in that case the inspector who approved the job got a pass.



    Interesting that the CPSC never required safety shutoffs on sealed-combustion equipment- it'll be interesting to see if that changes, for sealed-combustion and anything else using positive-pressure exhausting.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    Tim...

    I do have some experience, along with Dave Yates, in attempting to get changes in the code, and it was not favorable. I found that if you don't invest the time to show up during the public hearing portions of the code change review process, that your chances of survival shrink considerably. Unlike most state and county employees, who are spending taxpayers dollars to push through their agenda, I have better things to do with my time. Subsequently, the provisions that Dave and I co-sponsored went absolutely no where, and we feel that the recommended changes were absolutely worth the while (eliminating the use of potable water for "open loop" space heating applications).



    Here in Colorado, the state adopted the IPC, IMC and IEC, which to my understanding is less restrictive than the UPC, and UMC.



    If you want to take the initiative to introduce code changes, God bless you. I will support your efforts in any way I can.



    If you have had success getting things through without actually having to make a show during the hearing process, then you are a much better man than I.



    It was quite obvious to me, that code change is dictated by money (manufacturers lining up aginst our proposal) and a very strong political lobbying power (Home Builders Association) that DON"T want change. Dealing with the fire side of things may be different, but my experience with the I Code people was quite negative, and took up way more time than I thought it would.



    Let me know if I can help statistically.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    Yes Mark

    in three of the cases that I was involved with I had to testify (at my own expense) and then was called back four more times to basically say the same thing again as some members of the deciding body were not present at the first hearings. It takes time and is not always rewarding in the end my motto always serves me well. "Patient but Persistent"



    I would welcome any assistance on an attempt to get code passed. Jim would probably have some good strong arguments to include in any attempt.



    The problem we have is so many different codes covering different areas of the country.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    Maybe, just MAYBE...

    We could get some sponsors to support your efforts Tim. Like maybe a combustion analyzer manufacturers association (is there one?), or maybe just some analyzer manufacturers, independently. It would be conducive to sales on their part.



    Maybe Jim's company could co-sponsor your appearance.



    And yes, too many codes, and not enough time...



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • PlumdogPlumdog Member Posts: 873
    What the Heck?

    What is CPSC?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,477
    It's

    Consumer Product Safety Commission. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    Update...

    http://denver.cbslocal.com/2011/08/05/pitkin-coounty-attorneys-want-monoxide-case-dismissed/



    Looks like one of them wiggled off the hook, and the others are trying....



    Amazing what happens when attorneys get involved. This could drag on f o r e v e r . . . .



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    As usual the

    lawyers wheeling and dealing. This is why when incidents occur it is vital to gather a lot of data and take hundreds of pictures. You really have to have all your ducks in a row.



    That picture of the family breaks your heart.



    I had an incident when I worked for the gas company that required us to spend two days at the scene gathering evidence against a hacker installation that caused a carbon monoxide incident and killed six people from Guatemala. The inspectors kept trying to rush us to get us out of the house. We later found out why, the so called installer was very good friends with one of the inspectors.



    The end of that case was lawyers turned it around and sued the gas company because it was our fuel that caused the problem. Go figure, the gas company as was often the case settled out of court.
  • Jim DavisJim Davis Member Posts: 578
    Gas company liable??

    So if someone leaves their car idling in the garage and gets CO poisoning, that is the gasoline companies fault for supplying the fuel?

    I know legal fees can be expensive so I am guessing it was cheaper to settle than to fight it out in court, but I still believe that is an admission of guilt. 

    I guess money will always be more important than the truth!
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    Jim as was often the case

    gas companies at least here in the New England area were known for settling out of court. They were more concerned about bad PR than paying off and staying out of court. We for example very rarely pursued any cases when customers were caught stealing gas. We just wrote it off. It was just the way they set up their policy.



    I never agreed with that approach but I was not the company legal department.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    It's just business...

    Many utilities are investor owned, and management has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the investors best interests, and in some cases, that means avoiding legal expenses and settling out of court.



    Too freakin' many lawyers in this country. The whole GOVERNMENT is run by lawyers. Even the President is a lawyer.



    The podium is now available...



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Lawyers:

    Mark,

    I'm sure that you never listen to Left-Wing, Socialist/Communist radio but a comment was made last week about the fact of how many Lawyers are in Congress. And that Lawyers are trained in debating skills. When going to a debate competition, only a subject is known. The debater must know both sides of the subject. They only know what side of the subject they will defend just before the debate. No matter what side, right or wrong, lawyers are trained in defending either side. I call them professional obfuscaters. They are like weather people on TV. They fudge every statement and forcast with things like partly cloudy or partly sunny.

    So, Politicians are trained as professional obfuscators.

    Just news hacks on Main Stream Media.
  • Charles JohnsonCharles Johnson Member Posts: 24
    Spill switch

    Tim, just a question on installing spill switches on all equipment equipped with draft hoods.



    I have found a few spilling that were not tripping the spill switch. What is the solution without converting to a double swing barometric? Would you just install multiple spill switches around the hood? We obviously can't predict exactly where on the hood the exhaust gases will spill.



    You are talking about legislation to require installing them. How will it be written? If only 1 is required on a round draft hood, won't that just give a false sense of security? I have never found one tripped, but have found many draft hood appliances spilling.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    Charles

    adding a spill switch to a draft hood as a retrofit requires some knowledge of how the draft hoods are designed. If it is a typical round draft hood I would place one on each side wired in series with the system controls. Running the equipment and taking some temps around the draft hood can usually get a place for placement at the point of highest temp when spilling. We do not want the spill switch to become a nuisance call as most equipment will spill on cold start so place them so that in an extreme condition of continuous spillage due to blockage they will shut the equipment down.



    Ideally as to legislation, I would think manufacturers would do testing and determine placement and make a retrofit kit available if mandated to do so. Those of us in the field really do not have the expertise to know exactly what is best as to location for placement. I do know however in instances I have been involved with of extreme spillage due to blockage or reverse chimney affect the spill switch did shut the equipment off, especially on warm air systems.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    Unbelieveable outcome...

    Everyone walks away...



    The only good thing to come out of this is the awareness it brought, and the laws that were enacted. Hell of a price to pay for a free stay at an expensive home...



    http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20111104/NEWS/111109926/1077&ParentProfile=1058



    These people have a right to be unhappy. Somebody screwed up and didn't pay for it, and will probably do it again.



    No justice in this case.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Larry (from OSHA)Larry (from OSHA) Member Posts: 677
    The newpaper article

    talked about the faulty boiler by brand name.  My memory is increasingly fuzzy these days, but wasn't it a case of improper venting installation and not the appliance?



    If I'm mistaken, sorry about that but it seems that we often hear news reports of faulty equipment when the actual issue was an incorrect or disconnected vent system.



    As a side note, I'm a bit surprised that there is a statute of limitations on negligent homicide.  Also, as a member of a regulatory agency, I do cringe when discussion turns to charging inspectors with negligence.  At the same time, it certainly seems inconceivable that if the inspector actually looked at the installation he did not see serious issues.  (Again, I don't remember the details of this event).  None the less, very sad all around.



    Larry
  • billbill Member Posts: 429
    I believe it

    The likelihood of a a conviction was a long shot. This was criminal, not civil.

    Horribble things happenen everyday,Oh those poor people!

    Well today I get up and find out my sister in laws grandchildren and their mother were killed in a car wreck. I saw it first on Anchorage Daily News website.

    It's on the computer now I'm sure in the paper on Sunday.

    Horrible things happen
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    We may never know the truth...

    I've heard from fairly reliable sources that the PVC pipe was either not prepared (primed) correctly, or no glue was used. In any case, with a Grand Jury being involved, the records are sealed, and only that GJ has access to them.



    The inspector said he'd never even seen the boiler. How does THAT work? Drive by mechanical inspection?



    Something doesn't smell right...



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,617
    bill....

    Very sorry for your families loss. Tragic.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,477
    It's corruption

    purely and simply. Nothing else would explain it. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • billbill Member Posts: 429
    Hypothetical

    Say it went to trial and it came back guilty. If you were the judge what kind of sentence would you impose?

    Um, did these guys have priors?

    Jail? Fines? Community service? Probation?

    What a mess!
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 3,952
    A precedent setting

    case back in the 1970's in El Paso Texas the parties involved a service man and a inspector were found criminally negligent and sentenced to 3 years in prison with 18 months to serve. That had never happened before so civil findings in that same case leveled against the gas company for 6.28 million dollars and then criminal charges was a first.
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Member Posts: 734
    root of the problem

    Why is it a municipality requires a pressure test of DWV pipe, which probably won't kill the occupants if a joint fails, while they walk right past the HVAC vent that has a high potential to kill yet we are not required to test combustion venting?



    We have no national standards for testing the various categories of vents. We have a national std. for inspecting chimneys and vents: NFPA 211, Ch 14, but it is not enforced but in a handful of communities. It is the law in Delaware btw. We do not have consensus on how to conduct such tests as seen by all the in-fighting amongst the weatherization/ energy audit people who all want to be king. Right now we have BPI appointed the sole source yet they offer no mechanism for appeal and there is no mechanism for oversight.

    We have no voice with the UL STP for uL2034 and UL2075 for listed CO alarms. Many of the new statutes have language banning the sale or mfg of  unlisted CO monitors, which are far better, far more reliable and protect on the low end. The CO legislation process is ruled by money. You have the big players in the alarm business such as Kidde and First Alert backed by the fire chiefs and fire marshals. Why? Because they are seeing their budgets cut and don't have the money or manpower to inspect CO alarms much less respond to false alarms. The joke is, listed alarms give the false positive alerts-not the unlsited monitors.

    The UL STP 103 for venting has tabled efforts to list plastic venting for CAT IV appliances. We looked at the Canadian S636 std and found too many problems. Still, even if the venting is unlisted, it should be tested by qualified pros using calibrated combustion analyzers. We have a long way to go.
  • PlumdogPlumdog Member Posts: 873
    Here is something to think about......

    Two days before Thanksgiving, I get a call: "Come check the exhaust pipe". One of the rear-vented mod-con makes had the PVC exhaust pipe fall out of the "no-hub" looking adapter that comes as standard fare with some of these appliances. It appears as though a serviceman had pulled the exhaust out for some reason, then  folded and crimped the "no-hub" looking rubber seal when he put it back, trying to hold it in while tightening the "no-hub" looking band. Turns out the condensate trap was plugged, and the unit would give a pretty good "chuff" at each lite-off; slowly but surely nudging the exhaust out.

    Luckily, this family had a CO detector right in the mechanical room, wired into the home security system. They got a call at 2:30 AM waking them up, and telling them of the problem. The mechanical room was full of stinky, wet, exhaust products.

    This is the third or fourth time I have seen leaks and other problems with the exhaust connectors. Take a little time and be sure the PVC is sealed, and secure. And maybe safety-wire it just for good measure.
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