A charity warned on May 5, that families, students, householders and holiday-makers are at risk from deadly carbon monoxide poisoning because of the inadequate training of gas fitters - five year apprenticeships are still available.

A report commissioned by the charity Consumer Safety International reveals that some gas fitters have only had six weeks training before they are allowed to install and inspect gas boilers. FIRE was told that if the boilers are incorrectly installed or maintained they can produce highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO) gas. The gas is odourless and colourless yet it can kill within minutes. Every year in the UK people die and more than 300 are severely injured from carbon monoxide poisoning. Others die in unsafe holiday apartments while on holiday abroad. Over 400 people died of CO in France last year - in parts of France they automatically have autopsies, but we don't in this country. True numbers of UK CO deaths are unknown. All gas fitters used to serve an apprenticeship of up to 6 years before they were able to work unsupervised on gas appliances. Under the new Gas Safe Register which has replaced the Corgi scheme, gas fitters need only receive minimal training before they are able to operate on their own.

Molly Maher co-founded Consumer Safety International after her 26 year-old son Gary was killed and her 21 year-old daughter paralysed by carbon monoxide in a holiday flat in Tenerife. She told FIRE: "I have come out of semi-retirement to help publish Harry Roger's Report. It is heartbreaking every time another senseless CO death is announced. Also, families should not unknowingly suffer brain-damage through low-level seepage of this toxic gas.

"It is essential that every relevant home in the UK and every holiday apartment abroad are fitted with an Audible Alarm Carbon Monoxide Detector. This gas is a silent killer. How can householders be sure their appliance is safe when gas fitters are receiving such minimal training? As our report shows there needs to be much closer monitoring of boilers and other gas appliances. Unless the rules are tightened I fear there are going to be many more deaths and injuries, and many more families will face the heartache I faced of losing a loved one."

Molly says everyone should ensure they have at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home. She also advises holidaymakers to take a portable Audible CO Detector with them as gas safety standards in some popular holiday destinations abroad are very poor.

Posted: 14.43pm, 05.05.11