Court imposes $4,000 fine for endangering family
In October 2013, Mr. Fernando Bento installed a natural gas furnace as a favour to a friend. Although certified as a gas technician, Bento only performed occasional gas work. The installation was faulty and tripped a safety pressure switch, which is designed to automatically turn off the furnace when it detects excessive pressure from combustion exhaust. Bento provided the homeowner with written instructions on how to bypass the safety switch, which led to a dangerous build-up of CO in the house. The family was saved by their CO alarms and evacuated by emergency responders.
Mr. Bento pled guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto to rendering a safety pressure switch inoperative, violating the Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code (part of Ontario Regulation 212/01). Although these offences can carry heavy fines of up to $50,000 and jail time for individuals or up to $1,000,000 for corporations, the court fined Bento $4,000, plus the mandatory 25% victim surcharge, taking into account his genuine shock and remorse at putting his friend’s family at risk.
“This was a near miss for a potentially deadly CO scenario,” said John Marshall, Director of TSSA’s Fuels Safety Program. “When you’re certified to do work on fuel-fired appliances, like Mr. Bento, you have a professional and legal responsibility to keep up-to-date with all safety codes and standards – and should know about the importance of safety switches. They exist for a reason – to save people’s lives.”