Gas safety checks in Birmingham homes vital as Kingstanding explosion inquest concludes, says fire service

West Midlands Fire Service has urged homeowners to ensure they get annual gas safety checks following inquest into Doreen Mace’s death in the Kingstanding gas explosion
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An inquest into the death of Doreen Mace who died aged 79 when a house exploded half an hour after a gas leak was reported has concluded that her death was accidental.

Doreen’s partner David Murphy was severely injured in the explosion on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding in June last year. Jurors at Birmingham Coroners Court delivered their ‘accidental death’ verdict on Tuesday, Wednesday 17.

West Midlands Fire Service today (Wednesday, January 18) has urged all homeowners to ensure they get annual gas safety checks in their homes. They said these checks on appliances to stop leaks and  prevent carbon monoxide being released and should be carried out regardless of cost of living crisis issues. WMFS has also reminded residents of the importance of installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

It has been reported that Mr Murphy made several calls to his gas supplier before the explosion at the home he shared with Doreen. He told the company that he thought he could smell gas, his hob was no longer working and that the meter was making a noise.

The gas supplier advised him that an engineer would be at the house within the hour and that he should not use any ignition.

Mr Murphy’s final call ended just 30 minutes before the house was reduced to rubble. An investigation isolated the likely cause of the explosion to be an "accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework" of the house.

Four other houses were later demolished for safety reasons.

What has West Midlands Fire Service said about gas safety checks in homes in their own words?

A spokesperson for West Midlands Fire Service said: “This tragic incident highlights the importance of having annual gas safety checks in our homes. It’s also important that you use a qualified engineer, registered with the Gas Safe Register.

“Gas appliances - like boilers, cookers and fires - need to be serviced and checked for any leaks, and also to stop carbon monoxide being released. If your home’s rented, check that your landlord has had a Gas Safe engineer check things over.

mergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstandingmergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding
mergency services at the scene in Dulwich Road, Kingstanding

“We know that the current high cost of living means that some people may simply not be able to afford these checks, but some suppliers do them for free, so please check with your supplier if you are struggling financially.

“There are other simple steps you can take to keep your home safe. Fit smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors that you can hear. If your home is supplied with gas, be sure that you know where the emergency control or shut off valve is located - it will be at your gas meter - and that you can get to it easily.

“If ever you smell gas, it’s important you report it immediately. You can do this by calling the gas emergency number, which is 0800 111 999. If you’re worried about fire safety in your home, please remember you can contact your local fire and rescue service for free advice.”