Gas Safety / Public Safey/ Legislation Compliance

Paul steward made this Freedom of Information request to Belfast City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Belfast City Council,

The information I have requested is environmental information, as defined in Regulation 2(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations, it is exempt from disclosure under Section 39 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However, I want our Council to consider my request under regulation Section 74 of the Freedom of Information Act to consider my request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which gives me the public qualified rights to access to environmental information held by a public authority. I wish our Council therefore to considered my request under the Environmental Information Regulations.

With the ongoing request for compliant gas certification for gas appliances installed in mainly commercial premisses within the Belfast City Area with this in mind could you answer the following please.

1. It is my understanding that Belfast City Council have targeted "High Risk" commercial premisses for gas compliance and I have calculated a total of approximately 200 premisses have these establishments been deemed as high risk through previous "environmental" or "Gas" related risks?

2. I have also calculated there are an additional 800 gas premisses which include Hotels, B&Bs, Restaurants and commercial units when are these premisses going to be targeted?

3.How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City Council has No surveyors with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be "Medium" risk?

4. .How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City Council has No surveyors with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be "Low" risk?

5. How are they specifically categorised when Belfast City Council have No gas related qualifications also other FOIs to all Councils in Northern Ireland demonstrate No councils have surveyors with applicable experience, knowledge, and qualifications in gas?

6. With our council finding defects in some of the 200 properties are our council going to employ a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable gas engineer?

7. Do our council believe the public deserve an inspection of gas appliances in a gas premisses checked and inspected by a "Gas Engineer" with relevant qualifications or a surveyor or EHO ?

8. would employing a suitably qualified gas engineer serve and protect the public better rather than Environmental Health Officers and Building Control Officers who are clearly operating outside their skill set. eg … a painter does not certify an electricians work?

9. On the 1st April 2019 the need for Building Control and EHOs to certify gas appliances in Northern Ireland is coming to an end due to the new Gas Safe contract and the same contract as GB will be implemented in NI so there will be the implementation of self certification for gas engineers and an end to the exorbitant 2000% additional charge which has currently been operated in Northern Ireland how will this loss in revenue effect our council and what strategies are already in place for this loss of revenue?

10. With reference from previous response from Laura Hillis I previously questioned about Building Control charges and Belfast City Council response I quote.

"In Northern Ireland a building Control Completion Certificate for a gas
heating appliance/installation will mean that a Building Control Surveyor
has inspected it for Building Regulation compliance and a member of the
Gas Safe Register has installed it and provided Gas Safe certification".

The above request is not in line with current gas regulations it is also not a legal obligation for a gas engineer to issue a gas safe certificate on completion of a new installation why are Belfast City Council requesting certification outside of the registered gas engineers legislation?

11. On completion of a new gas installation the only legal obligation on a gas engineer is to complete the Bench Mark book in its entirety recording all applicable readings, temperatures, commissioning engineer why is this certificate not requested also the Benchmark Book is valid for 1 year and recorded information exceeds that contained within a gas safety certificate?

12. Is this another display of our council desperately in need of knowledgeable, experienced and suitably qualified gas engineers to carry out such requests and understands what should and shouldn't be requested to meet the obligations of the engineers and our council?

13. will our council continue to request gas safe certification when a new installation has been installed?

14. will those gas engineers who previously installed a gas appliance filled out the benchmark book in its entirety and refused a completion certification by BC or EHOs due to no gas safe cert issued and had to return and issue a gas safety certification to satisfy the non compliant request can these engineers recoup the financial loss due to our EHOs or Building Control Officers lacking in the understanding of the legislation imposed?

15. How often do our BC & EHOs check current gas regulations, Legislation and responsibilities our would you consider this request not applicable?

16. Would Belfast City Council consider sending out suitably qualified gas engineers along with your EHOs so together the gas premisses can be viewed with the 2 related skill sets this will minimise disruption of business for the owner and the property can be instantly accessed and applicable certification issued?

17.Previous response from Belfast City Council Miss Laura Hillis on the 19th October 2018 responded that 420 visits were made by Building Control Officers to Victoria Square Belfast and they assessed multiple items of construction for building regulations compliance, of which checking heating installations is one. With the obvious dangers of gas and the heightened risks associated with gas especially in apartment scenarios do you still consider a surveyor is best qualified to protect our public to access the gas scenarios even though they have no gas related qualifications?

18. with the above question in mind would a suitably registered, qualified, experienced knowledgeable gas engineer be best placed to understand the various compliant legislation so corners are not cut thus protecting the public as far as practicable?

19. After the 1st April 2019 will Belfast City Council continue to inspect for gas compliance in gas conveying premisses?

20. How many residential installations have been "randomly" inspected for gas compliance by our council in the last 2years

21. Due to the unprecedented rise in letting agents within the Belfast City Zone can our council disclose how many inspections have our council done to ensure public safety by checking and cross referencing certificates for "working out of scope", "fraudulent Certification" "No certification or expired certificates" fake or false or items on certificate non compliant" in the last 2 years

22. Please provide for the last 2 years certificates inspected in numbers also the amount of non compliant certs as listed above action taken by council and our council redress inspection eg.

checked 964 /Non Compliant 65/ 4 sanctions applied /65 Now compliant/ sanctions lifted

Yours faithfully,

Paul steward

Laura Hillis, Belfast City Council

1 Attachment

FAO Paul Steward

By email to [1][FOI #536414 email]

 

27 December 2018

 

Dear Mr Steward

 

Thank you for your email dated 2 December 2018 requesting, under the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, information relating to Gas
Safety/Public Safety/Legislation Compliance. 

 

As you may be aware, the Council is permitted under Regulation 7 of these
provisions to extend the 20 working days time period for issuing a
response to a request to 40 working days if it reasonably believes that
the complexity and volume of the information requested means that it is
impracticable either to comply with the request within the earlier period
or make a decision to refuse to do so.

 

In view of the complexity and volume of the information requested in your
request, the Council finds it necessary to extend the time limit.  You
will receive a written response detailing the Council’s final decision in
relation to your request by 1 February 2019.

 

If you are dissatisfied with how the Council handled your request for
information, you have the right to request that the Council formally
review this decision.  If you wish to do so, please write to the Records
Manager, Information Governance Unit, Legal and Civic Services, Belfast
City Council, City Hall, Belfast, BT1 5GS.

 

Should you remain dissatisfied following the Council's internal review,
you can seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner. 
Requests for an independent review should be made in writing to: The
Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF.  However, I would advise you that the Information Commissioner
has indicated that a review will not be undertaken unless the Council has
first had an opportunity to re-consider its decision.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Laura Hillis

 

 

Ms Laura Hillis BSc BArch MBA MRICS

Assistant Building Control Manager

 

[2]BCC Logo + Typography AW2 (2 Lines)

 

Building Control Service

Belfast City Council

Cecil Ward Building

4 - 10 Linenhall Street

Belfast BT2 8BP

 

[email address]

Phone: 028 90270 622 or 028 9032 0202 ext 2469

[mobile number]

 

From: Paul steward <[3][FOI #536414 email]>

Sent: 02 December 2018 00:15

To: Records - Chief Exec Records Manager <[4][email address]>

Subject: Freedom of Information request - Gas Safety / Public Safey/
Legislation Compliance

 

Dear Belfast City Council,

 

The information I have requested is environmental information, as defined
in Regulation 2(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations, it is
exempt from disclosure under Section 39 of the Freedom of Information Act
2000. However, I want our Council to consider my request under regulation
Section 74 of the Freedom of Information Act to consider my request under
the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which gives me the public
qualified rights to access to environmental information held by a public
authority. I wish our Council therefore to considered my request under the
Environmental Information Regulations.

 

With the ongoing request for compliant gas certification for gas
appliances installed in mainly commercial premisses within the Belfast
City Area with this in mind could you answer the following please.

 

1. It is my understanding that Belfast City Council have targeted "High
Risk" commercial premisses for gas compliance and I have calculated a
total of approximately 200 premisses have these establishments been deemed
as high risk through previous "environmental" or "Gas" related risks?

 

2. I have also calculated there are an additional 800 gas premisses which
include Hotels, B&Bs, Restaurants and commercial units when are these
premisses going to be targeted?

 

3.How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City
Council has No surveyors  with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be
"Medium" risk?

 

4. .How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City
Council has No surveyors  with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be
"Low" risk?

 

5. How are they specifically categorised when Belfast City Council have No
gas related qualifications also other FOIs to all Councils in Northern
Ireland demonstrate No councils have surveyors with applicable experience,
knowledge, and qualifications in gas?

 

6. With our council finding defects in some of the 200 properties are our
council going to employ a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable gas
engineer?

 

7. Do our council believe the public deserve an inspection of gas
appliances in a gas premisses checked and inspected by a "Gas Engineer"
with relevant qualifications or a surveyor or EHO ?

 

8. would employing a suitably qualified gas engineer serve and protect the
public better rather than Environmental Health Officers and Building
Control Officers who are clearly operating outside their skill set. eg … a
painter does not certify an electricians work?

 

9. On the 1st April 2019 the need for Building Control and EHOs to certify
gas appliances in Northern Ireland is coming to an end due to the new Gas
Safe contract and the same contract as GB will be implemented in NI so
there will be the implementation of self certification for gas engineers
and an end to the exorbitant 2000% additional charge which has currently
been operated in Northern Ireland how will this loss in revenue effect our
council and what strategies are already in place for this loss of revenue?

 

10. With reference from previous response from Laura Hillis I previously
questioned about Building Control charges and Belfast City Council
response I quote.

 

"In Northern Ireland a building Control Completion Certificate for a gas
heating appliance/installation will mean that a Building Control Surveyor
has inspected it for Building Regulation compliance and a member of the
Gas Safe Register has installed it and provided Gas Safe certification".

 

The above request is not in line with current gas regulations it is also
not a legal obligation for a gas engineer to issue a gas safe certificate
on completion of a new installation why are Belfast City Council
requesting certification outside of the registered gas engineers
legislation?

 

11. On completion of a new gas installation the only legal obligation on a
gas engineer is to complete the Bench Mark book in its entirety recording
all applicable readings, temperatures, commissioning engineer why is this
certificate not requested also the Benchmark Book is valid for 1 year and
recorded information exceeds that contained within a gas safety
certificate?

 

12. Is this another display of our council desperately in need of
knowledgeable, experienced and suitably qualified gas engineers to carry
out such requests and understands what should and shouldn't be requested
to meet the obligations of the engineers and our council?

 

13. will our council continue to request gas safe certification when a new
installation has been installed?

 

14. will those gas engineers who previously installed a gas appliance
filled out the benchmark book in its entirety and refused a completion
certification by BC or EHOs due to no gas safe cert issued and had to
return and issue a gas safety certification to satisfy the non compliant
request can these engineers recoup the financial loss due to our EHOs or
Building Control Officers lacking in the understanding of the legislation
imposed?

 

15. How often do our BC & EHOs check current gas regulations, Legislation
and responsibilities our would you consider this request not applicable?

 

16. Would Belfast City Council consider sending out suitably qualified gas
engineers along with your EHOs so together the gas premisses can be viewed
with the 2 related skill sets this will minimise disruption of business
for the owner and the property can be instantly accessed and applicable
certification issued?

 

17.Previous response from Belfast City Council Miss Laura Hillis on the
19th October 2018 responded that 420 visits were made by Building Control
Officers to Victoria Square Belfast and they assessed multiple items of
construction for building regulations compliance, of which checking
heating installations is one.  With the obvious dangers of gas and the
heightened risks associated with gas especially in apartment scenarios do
you still consider a surveyor is best qualified to protect our public to
access the gas scenarios even though they have no gas related
qualifications?

 

18. with the above question in mind would a suitably registered,
qualified, experienced knowledgeable gas engineer be best placed to
understand the various compliant legislation so corners are not cut thus
protecting the public as far as practicable?

 

19. After the 1st April 2019 will Belfast City Council continue to inspect
for gas compliance in  gas conveying premisses?

 

20. How many residential installations have been "randomly" inspected for
gas compliance by our council in the last 2years

 

21. Due to the unprecedented rise  in letting agents within the Belfast
City Zone can our council disclose how many inspections have our  council
done to ensure public safety by checking and cross referencing
certificates for "working out of scope", "fraudulent Certification" "No
certification or expired certificates" fake or false or items on
certificate non compliant" in the last 2 years

 

22. Please provide for the last 2 years certificates inspected in numbers
also the amount of non compliant certs as listed above action taken by
council and our council redress inspection eg.

 

checked 964  /Non Compliant 65/  4 sanctions applied /65 Now compliant/
sanctions lifted

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Paul steward

 

show quoted sections

Dear Laura Hillis,

I request all information to be provided after the “Long Stay” time extension has been exhausted also all questions answered in their entirety , fully and honestly and the need to clarify should be exhausted as you have requested a further 20days to complete my request.

Yours sincerely,

Paul steward

Laura Hillis, Belfast City Council

Laura is on leave until Monday 7 January

 

If your query cannot wait please email Eddie McIntosh
[email address] or phone the office on 028 90270 650 and ask
to speak to a member of the Business Development Team.

 

You could also email [email address] and someone would
get back to you

 

The Council is closed 31st December and 1 January 2019.
Happy New Year!

Laura Hillis, Belfast City Council

1 Attachment

Place and Economy

Building Control

                                                                               
Being dealt with by: Laura Hillis

 

                                                                               
Phone: 028 90270622

 

                                                                               
Date: 1 February 2019

                                                                               

FAO Paul Steward

By email to [1][FOI #536414 email]

 

Dear Mr Steward

 

Re:  Information request relating to Gas Safety/Public Safety/Legislation
Compliance

 

Further to my email dated 27 December 2018, Belfast City Council is now in
a positon to reply to your request for information submitted under the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 on 2 December 2018.

 

As you are aware, under Regulation 12(4)(b) a public authority, such as
Belfast City Council, may refuse to disclose environmental information
requested if the request is manifestly unreasonable. Guidance issued by
the Information Commissioner, who is the regulator responsible for
ensuring that public authorities comply fully with this legislation,
advises that a request may be manifestly unreasonable if dealing with a
request would create unreasonable costs or an unreasonable diversion of
resources.  The information which you have requested at the part of your
request you numbered 22 is not readily accessible.  This is because the
Council has not specifically recorded or collated this information in
standalone documents or in any other format which makes it readily
accessible. To fully comply with your request would require the Council to
undertake an extensive and time-consuming file by file review of its paper
and electronic record-keeping systems relating to 805 inspections to
retrieve and extract the specific information requested. The Council
considers that undertaking this time-consuming and labour intensive task
would cause it to incur unreasonable costs and would be an unreasonable
diversion of its resources. The Council has, therefore, decided to refuse
part 22 of your request on the grounds that it is manifestly unreasonable
and the information is exempt from disclosure under the exception provided
in Regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

 

In reaching this decision the Council took into account, but did not rely
solely on, Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act and the associated
Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004. Under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act, a
public authority does not have to comply with a request for information if
it estimates that the cost of compliance would exceed the appropriate
limit set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations. For public authorities, such as
the Council, the appropriate limit is £450.00, which is calculated on the
basis of 18 hours of staff time at a rate of £25.00 per hour. The Council
estimates that it would take approximately 403 hours, which at a rate of
£25.00 per hour would cost over £10,075.00 to locate, retrieve and extract
the requested information. The Council, therefore, concluded that dealing
with your request would require it to incur unreasonable costs and cause
an unreasonable diversion of resources.

 

Where the Council decides to refuse to disclose information requested on
the basis that Regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information
Regulations is engaged, it must apply what is known as a public interest
test. This requires the Council to decide whether, in all circumstances of
the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the
public interest in disclosing the information.

 

In applying the public interest test the Council gave careful
consideration to the arguments for and against disclosure. The arguments
which were taken into account in favour of disclosure were:

 

·         that it would promote accountability and transparency in
relation to the Council’s decisions and its spending of public money on
the issue of gas safety and legislative compliance;

·         that it would promote greater public awareness and understanding
of environmental matters, including on this issue;

·         that it would allow for more informed debate on this issue;

·         that it would promote more effective public participation in
environmental decision-making; that it would ultimately contribute to a
better environment;

·         the specific circumstances of the case and the content of the
information requested in relation to those circumstances;

·         whether any of the information was already in the public domain;
and

·         the impact of disclosure upon individuals and the wider public.

 

The arguments which were taken into account in favour of maintaining the
exception were:

 

·         the need to protect the Council from exposure to
disproportionate burden;

·         the need to ensure the Council’s resources are efficiently,
economically and effectively utilised, and that no unwarranted strain is
placed on its resources;

·         the need to ensure that the Council is not distracted from
delivering mainstream services or responding to other requests;

·         the need to protect the Council from an unjustified level of
distress, disruption or irritation;

·         the specific circumstances of the case and the content of the
information requested in relation to those circumstances; and

·         the impact of disclosure upon individuals and the wider public.

 

The Council balanced the need for openness and accountability against the
need to protect the Council from exposure to disproportionate burden and
an unjustified level of distress, disruption and irritation in handling
this part of your information request. Having taken into account the
arguments for and against the disclosure the Council has decided that, on
balance, in this case the public interest in maintaining the exception
provided under Regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information
Regulations outweighs that in favour of disclosure. The Council concluded
that the possible benefits of disclosure are outweighed by:

 

·         the need to protect the Council from exposure to
disproportionate burden;

·         the need to ensure the Council’s resources are efficiently,
economically and effectively utilised, and that no unwarranted strain is
placed on its resources;

·         the need to ensure that the Council is not distracted from
delivering mainstream services or responding to other requests;

·         the need to protect the Council from an unjustified level of
distress, disruption and irritation; and

·         the fact that there are no exceptional circumstances or
overriding public interest that would warrant disclosure.

 

The Council can, however, comply with the remainder of your request, (ie
the parts you numbered 1 to 21 inclusive), free of charge.  The Council’s
response to these parts of your request is set out below. 

 

The Council only holds some of the information you have requested.  Where
the information requested is not held by the Council, this is clearly
indicated in the response below.  I should explain that under the
Environmental Information Regulations the Council is only deemed to hold
the information requested if it is held in written, visual, aural,
electronic or any other material form.  The Council is not required under
the Environmental Information Regulations to create information or to
provide an opinion, reason, statement or information on a subject unless
it is held in any of the formats specified above. 

 

The Council has decided that the information it does hold relevant to your
request can be disclosed into the public domain, and accordingly, it is
provided below.  For ease of reference, I have reproduced each part of
your request in bold and provided the Council’s response directly below
each part. 

 

1. It is my understanding that Belfast City Council have targeted "High
Risk" commercial premisses for gas compliance and I have calculated a
total of approximately 200 premisses have these establishments been deemed
as high risk through previous "environmental" or "Gas" related risks?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  However, to assist you, as
you are aware, I can advise that the Council has recently written to
approximately 400 food business operators in the city to advise them of
their duties under The Health & Safety at Work Order (NI) Order 1978 and
the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations.  The letter reminded
them of their responsibilities to maintain their gas equipment in a safe
condition and requested that they forward to us a gas inspection record to
confirm that the gas system they use has been properly maintained and an
appropriate Gas Safe Registered (GSR) installer has carried out all work
on the system.  We undertake this activity periodically and as resources
permit.  This phase focuses on hot food/takeaway type business operators
but we intend to write to all food businesses using gas as we continue to
roll out the programme.  Premises are risk rated for Health and Safety
using HSE guidance HELA lac 76/3.  The Council does not hold the
information on fuel type used within commercial premises.

 

2. I have also calculated there are an additional 800 gas premisses which
include Hotels, B&Bs, Restaurants and commercial units when are these
premisses going to be targeted?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  Please see response to part 1
of your request, above.

 

3. How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City
Council has No surveyors with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be
"Medium" risk?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  Please see response to part 1
of your request, above. 

 

4. How many current Gas conveying premisses bearing in mind Belfast City
Council has No surveyors with Gas Related qualifications are deemed to be
"Low" risk?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  Please see response to part 1
of your request, above.

 

5. How are they specifically categorised when Belfast City Council have No
gas related qualifications also other FOIs to all Councils in Northern
Ireland demonstrate No councils have surveyors with applicable experience,
knowledge, and qualifications in gas?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  I can advise that the Council
does not ‘specifically categorised’ premises based on fuel type.  Please
see response to part 1 of your request, above.

 

6. With our council finding defects in some of the 200 properties are our
council going to employ a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable gas
engineer?

 

The Council has no plans to employ a gas engineer.

 

7. Do our council believe the public deserve an inspection of gas
appliances in a gas premisses checked and inspected by a "Gas Engineer"
with relevant qualifications or a surveyor or EHO ?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  However, to assist you, I
should explain that EHOs are not experts in relation to the technical
aspects of gas installations, but rather require evidence of suitable
maintenance of gas equipment by means of a Gas Safe Certificate.  Belfast
City Council as an enforcing authority under the Health and Safety at Work
(NI) Order 1978 does not carry out work on gas systems and is not required
to have staff that hold gas competencies or that are Gas Safe registered
(GSR).  EHOs require confirmation of compliance by means of a gas
inspection records produced by a GSR engineer.  EHOs require any defects
which could give rise to danger, as documented by the GSR engineer, to be
remedied.  Belfast City Council regularly engages with GSR, Health &
Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and gas engineers with
respect to gas safety.  Belfast City Council will seek additional
independent technical expertise as it deems necessary required to assist
it with its regulatory functions.

 

8. would employing a suitably qualified gas engineer serve and protect the
public better rather than Environmental Health Officers and Building
Control Officers who are clearly operating outside their skill set. eg … a
painter does not certify an electricians work?

 

The Council does not hold this information. However, to assist you, I can
confirm that the Council is satisfied that Building Control and
Environmental Health Officers are suitably skilled to enforce the
legislation relevant to their roles.  Please see response to part 7 of
your request, above.

 

9. On the 1st April 2019 the need for Building Control and EHOs to certify
gas appliances in Northern Ireland is coming to an end due to the new Gas
Safe contract and the same contract as GB will be implemented in NI so
there will be the implementation of self certification for gas engineers
and an end to the exorbitant 2000% additional charge which has currently
been operated in Northern Ireland how will this loss in revenue effect our
council and what strategies are already in place for this loss of revenue?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  However, to assist you, I
would explain that the Council, while aware if the re-awarding of the Gas
Safe contract from April 2019, is not aware of any forthcoming changes in
legislation in Northern Ireland related to self-certification of gas
installations, and therefore does not anticipate any resulting loss of
revenue associated with building regulations applications. 

 

10. With reference from previous response from Laura Hillis I previously
questioned about Building Control charges and Belfast City Council
response I quote.

 

"In Northern Ireland a building Control Completion Certificate for a gas
heating appliance/installation will mean that a Building Control Surveyor
has inspected it for Building Regulation compliance and a member of the
Gas Safe Register has installed it and provided Gas Safe certification".

 

The above request is not in line with current gas regulations it is also
not a legal obligation for a gas engineer to issue a gas safe certificate
on completion of a new installation why are Belfast City Council
requesting certification outside of the registered gas engineers
legislation?

 

While, in a previous response, we referred to Gas safe certification, as
this is what is frequently provided to the Council and considered to be
commonly used terminology.  However, I would now clarify that under the
Building Regulations (NI) 2012, Part F, Conservation of Fuel and Power,
Regulation 45 ‘Notice of Commissioning ‘there is an obligation for an
installer to provide the building owner and the Council with a Notice of
Commissioning, documenting that a fixed building service (such as a
gas/oil combustion appliance/system) has been properly commissioned and
signed by a suitably qualified person.

 

The notice should be received by the Council within 5 days of completion
of the commissioning works and should confirm that a commissioning plan
has been followed and that every system has been inspected in an
appropriate sequence and to a reasonable standard and that the test
results confirm that performance is reasonably in accordance with the
design requirements.

 

11. On completion of a new gas installation the only legal obligation on a
gas engineer is to complete the Bench Mark book in its entirety recording
all applicable readings, temperatures, commissioning engineer why is this
certificate not requested also the Benchmark Book is valid for 1 year and
recorded information exceeds that contained within a gas safety
certificate?

 

The Benchmark document is one of a number of documents, but not the only
one, used to demonstrate to the Council that the appropriate commissioning
by a suitably qualified person has occurred and complies with above
regulation.

 

12. Is this another display of our council desperately in need of
knowledgeable, experienced and suitably qualified gas engineers to carry
out such requests and understands what should and shouldn't be requested
to meet the obligations of the engineers and our council?

 

The Council does not hold this information.  Please see response to part 7
of your request, above.

 

13. will our council continue to request gas safe certification when a new
installation has been installed?

 

Building Control officers will continue to request a suitable Notice of
Commissioning for new gas installations.  Please see responses to parts 10
and 11 of your request, above. 

 

14. will those gas engineers who previously installed a gas appliance
filled out the benchmark book in its entirety and refused a completion
certification by BC or EHOs due to no gas safe cert issued and had to
return and issue a gas safety certification to satisfy the non compliant
request can these engineers recoup the financial loss due to our EHOs or
Building Control Officers lacking in the understanding of the legislation
imposed?

 

The Council does not hold this information.

 

15. How often do our BC & EHOs check current gas regulations, Legislation
and responsibilities our would you consider this request not applicable?

The Council does not hold this information.  The Council actively monitors
legislation (and associated guidance) for which it has statutory
enforcement responsibility.

 

16. Would Belfast City Council consider sending out suitably qualified gas
engineers along with your EHOs so together the gas premisses can be viewed
with the 2 related skill sets this will minimise disruption of business
for the owner and the property can be instantly accessed and applicable
certification issued?

 

The Council does not any information in this regard.

 

17. Previous response from Belfast City Council Miss Laura Hillis on the
19th October 2018 responded that 420 visits were made by Building Control
Officers to Victoria Square Belfast and they assessed multiple items of
construction for building regulations compliance, of which checking
heating installations is one.  With the obvious dangers of gas and the
heightened risks associated with gas especially in apartment scenarios do
you still consider a surveyor is best qualified to protect our public to
access the gas scenarios even though they have no gas related
qualifications?

 

Gas installers, as certified personnel, have the primary responsibility
for the safe installation of the gas systems and appliances that they
install.  The Council is satisfied that its Building Control surveyors are
suitably qualified to undertake their role of inspecting newly installed
gas installations and appliances for building regulation compliance.

 

18. with the above question in mind would a suitably registered,
qualified, experienced knowledgeable gas engineer be best placed to
understand the various compliant legislation so corners are not cut thus
protecting the public as far as practicable?

 

The Council does not hold any information in this regard.  Please see
response to part 17 of your request, above.

 

19. After the 1st April 2019 will Belfast City Council continue to inspect
for gas compliance in gas conveying premisses?

 

Council officers will continue to enforce the legislation relevant to
their role.  With respect to Building Regulation applications made to the
Council, Building Control officers will continue to inspect gas
installations/appliances for compliance with the building regulations. 

 

20. How many residential installations have been "randomly" inspected for
gas compliance by our council in the last 2 years

 

The Council does not undertake random inspections.

 

21. Due to the unprecedented rise in letting agents within the Belfast
City Zone can our council disclose how many inspections have our  council
done to ensure public safety by checking and cross referencing
certificates for "working out of scope", "fraudulent Certification" "No
certification or expired certificates" fake or false or items on
certificate non compliant" in the last 2 years

 

The Council does not hold this information.  With regard to your reference
to public safety, I should advise that the Health and Safety at Work (NI)
Order 1978 places responsibility on the employer to ensure the safety
persons affected by his undertaking (Article 5), this includes members of
the public.  The obligation therefore for ensuring public safety in
premises will rest with the employer or business operator.

 

If you are dissatisfied with how the Council handled your request for
information, you have the right to request that the Council formally
review this decision.  If you wish to do so, please write to the Records
Manager, Information Governance Unit, Legal and Civic Services, Belfast
City Council, City Hall, Belfast, BT1 5GS.

 

Should you remain dissatisfied following the Council’s internal review,
you can seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner. 
Requests for an independent review should be made in writing to:  The
Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF.  However, I would advise you that the Information Commissioner
has indicated that a review will not be undertaken unless the Council has
first had an opportunity to re-consider its decision.

 

If you have any queries in relation to this response please contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Laura Hillis

Assistant Building Control Manager

 

 

Ms Laura Hillis BSc BArch MBA MRICS

Assistant Building Control Manager

 

[2]BCC Logo + Typography AW2 (2 Lines)

 

Building Control Service

Belfast City Council

Cecil Ward Building

4 - 10 Linenhall Street

Belfast BT2 8BP

 

[email address]

Phone: 028 90270 622 or 028 9032 0202 ext 2469

[mobile number]

 

 

 

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