Gas Certificate & Ventilation

by Helen
(Lancashire)

Hi, I have a coffee van which I have been running at shows & events for 6 years with no problems....so far!! It is a van not a trailer, so I stand outside in the fresh air to serve.

It is not possible to be inside the van to work.
Engineer won't give me gas cert. this year because not enough ventilation.

Coffee machine is in side of van...sliding door for access, obviously open all day when setting up, trading, cleaning off. Other side door open all day for stock refill..cups lids etc. Back hatch door open all day with fridge & cans for public sale. Engineer not concerned about gas leaks as I have holes drilled in containers etc. as required. He won't give cert in case there is not enough fresh air circulating when the gas is lit and I am working.

I am standing in the fresh air, under the sky, open to the elements...how much more fresh air can I get??

He insists that I put 2 air vents in each sliding door (both sign written) one top & one bottom. No one will see them because the doors will be open.....to let in fresh air. He has emailed me to say that his only concern is when the gas is actually lit, which is only when I am working.

He said what if I lit the gas, shut all the doors, sat in the driving compartment of the van and fell asleep...I might get gassed. I suppose I could do that if I had had a lobotomy first and there were no customers to serve.

I am very frustrated as my old gas cert has run out and I need it renewed for this week end. He spent nearly 2 hours telling me how clean my van was, what good condition everything was in and how proud I should be of how I kept it. I paid him £80 (for 1 coffee machine)when I actually thought he was writing out the cert. which was when he told me he could not pass the van.
I have spoken to Gas Safe, NMTF (my liability insurers) my van insurers, companies who convert vehicles into coffee vans, other coffee van owners and NCASS (He is working from the NCASS guidelines for trailers carts & bikes..where can you put a vent on a bike?)

Any advice or help gratefully accepted.

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May 15, 2014
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gas certificate & Ventilation
by: Helen

Hi Brian,
Thanks for your comments.
NCASS sent me a copy of the guidelines, which they told me was predominantly for trailers and that the engineer should be in a position to show some discretion for my coffee van. Gass Safe told me the same thing.
The engineer only seems concerned about the combustion when the gas is lit which is when I am working, which is obviously when all the doors are open.
I have sent him an email today asking if he can put a note on the certificate to say that the machine is safe to use and there is no danger to the public. The danger he is concerned about only applies to me personally if I decide to sit in the van with the gas lit and the doors locked. Well that never occurred to me in the last 6 years.
I understand the safety aspect of the guidelines for trailers and think it's a good idea.
There were absolutley no problems with gas inspection..no leaks, new pipes every 2 years, no CO2 issues, safe container for bottles, holes drilled in container and floor under container, hole drilled in floor under coffee machine...all present & correct. Same engineer last year and he made no mention of ventilation issues.
I obviously can't get grilles put in the doors before I go to work this weekend (a show I have paid alot of money to trade at)so I hope he uses a bit of discretion and logic.
I think it's probably time to get rid of my van now. This is the kind of stress that drives small businesses out of business. My local EHO won't even come out because they say I am too low risk and it is not cost effective for them to visit me and then this happens.
Thanks for your advice and I'll measure the floor space and see what difference the compartment guidelines make, but I can't afford to get my van sign wriiten again in any case.
Will let you know what happens in the end.
Helen

May 15, 2014
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Gas Certificate & Ventilation
by: Brian

Hello Helen,

The current adopted document for catering vehicles is UKLPG code of practice 24 part 3. Section 8.2 states: free ventilation should be provided at a rate of at least 25cms2 of each 1 kw input rating of all appliances or 100 cm2 whichever is the greater. This should be divided equally between ventilation openings at high and low level.

Within the gas world, a 'should' means discretion can be used on existing installations, so ventilation at 90% or unfixed is non compliant but not dangerous, historically in commercial catering supply air ventilation has been an issue as kitchens rely upon openable windows, which is at odds with the ventilation stipulation of 'fixed and permanent'

The section above relates to ventilation to a catering area, if it is not possible to occupy this space or use the equipment while stood in this space, I would revert to ventilation requirements for compartments which is 1% of the compartment's floor area at high and low level, compliance can be achieved by notes on any paperwork to reflect the engineer's risk assessment.

The engineer can give you a certificate, the problem however is, if it contains notes that reference risk of some kind, EHO's may not accept it. The fundamental principles of gas safety are to identify risk and put controls in place.

If the gas installation does not leak gas, the appliances have good combustion readings and the CO2 air quality is around 500-1000 parts per million in the area an operative works, I would consider a written safe operating procedure and signage to be a satisfactory control.

Hope that helps
Brian

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