Windsor Contractor Convicted for Endangering Family

Court imposes $10,000 fine for unlawful activity

In January 2014, Mr. Van Wattegham was called to service a gas furnace that had been shut off by another gas technician at a residential home in Windsor due to a crack in the heat exchanger, which poses a significant CO hazard. Mr. Van Wattegham failed to appreciate this danger, turned the gas back on to the appliance, advised the owners that an unrelated repair might be needed, told them to purchase a CO detector, and left the home with the furnace running.

The family was saved days later when, after installing a CO detector, its alarm immediately sounded.

Mr. Van Wattegham was convicted by the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor for using a fuel appliance that was in a hazardous condition and failing to turn off the gas to a hazardous appliance, contrary to the Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code (Ontario Regulation 212/01). The court fined Mr. Van Wattegham $10,000, plus the mandatory 25% victim surcharge for a total penalty of $12,500, taking into account that the contractor had no prior convictions.

“This was a near miss for a potentially deadly CO scenario,” said John Marshall, Director of TSSA’s Fuels Safety Program. “Mr. Van Wattegham and all other TSSA-certified fuel technicians have a professional and legal responsibility to keep up-to-date with all safety codes and standards and be aware of the risks associated with a damaged fuel-fired appliances and know the proper precautions to ensure public safety.”