Enhanced Safety Rules

The balance between customer service and the safety of customers and employees was the main topic at last night’s Laurens Commission of Public Works monthly meeting. Last month, General Manager John Young had introduced proposed policy changes to limit or even discontinue the lighting of a customer’s pilot light in their gas furnace, due to safety concerns. At the January meeting of the CPW last night, John Young said, “Our employees have told us that there are many older models of appliances that may cause extreme danger due to them not meeting the requirements of the standard gas code.” He proposed that only under limited circumstances would a CPW employee make minimal repairs to natural gas appliances on the customer’s side of the meter. This service will only be offered in the event of an emergency such as a gas leak, cut line, or problem on the CPW side of the meter, and only in cases where a minimum amount of work is required to restore service to the customer such as tighten a connection or install a flexible connector.

Young proposed not lighting a pilot light or make any repair or maintenance to a natural gas appliance that doesn’t meet the standard gas code or that the CPW technician believes to be unsafe. He also requested the policy include any appliance over 25 years old or one without a legible manufacturer’s information plate, but there was opposition to those two points.

Commissioner Gerald Abercrombie said the age of any appliance does not always mean it does not function properly. He said, “I have seen appliances practically brand new that did not work and older ones that are very efficient.”  Abercrombie also was concerned that this new policy may leave elderly customers without heat if a problem occurred with their gas furnace and they did not know how to light the pilot.
One CPW employee stated he had seen many floor gas furnaces that had not been properly taken care of and were fire hazards, or prone to gas leaks.

The Commissioners approved the policy changes with a unanimous compromise to not prohibit service because of the age of the appliance or it’s not having a legible manufacturer’s plate.

A proposal for additional employee training was delayed for the next heating season, so that the new policy takes effect immediately.