THE State Government says it is on track to replace all of more than 6000 Vulcan/Pyrox gas heaters by the start of winter after a coroner recommended all open flue heaters be phased out across Victoria.
And the government's timing could not better as Ballarat shivered through its coldest night of the year on Tuesday night, with the mercury falling to just 1.6 degrees.
Housing Minister Richard Wynne said the work to replace the 6525 heaters installed in public housing properties would be completed by the end of May, with 5700 heaters removed already.
"This has been a big project and I thank the public housing tenants who have been patient and understanding while this crucial work has been underway to keep them safe," Mr Wynne said.
Energy Safe Victoria and the Australian Gas Association advised that Vulcan/Pyrox open flue gas heaters could be dangerous and the heaters were withdrawn from sale after the July 2017 death of 62-year-old Sonia Sofianopoulos from carbon monoxide poisoning.
A Coroner's inquest said Ms Sofianopoulos, from Greensborough, died from carbon monoxide poisoning with the cause of the fatal poisoning the unit's Vulcan Heritage open-flued gas heater, manufactured 25 years ago.
"New and renovated housing, commonly characterised by a reduction in ventilation, together with the use of internal exhaust fans, can be a deadly combination when an (open-flued gas heater) is operating," Coroner Jacqui Hawkins said.
"Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It's not detectable by humans either by sight, taste or smell. It's a poisonous, highly flammable gas that is lethal if absorbed by the blood in large amounts."
My Wynne said as well as replacing the Vulcan/Pyrox gas heaters, the State Government had also inspected an additional 24,000 gas heaters and replaced a further 7400 heaters.
He said more than 25,000 carbon monoxide alarms had also been installed in all public housing homes where a gas heater is present.
People living in private homes currently using a Vulcan or Pyrox heater are urged not to use them, and call the manufacturer on 8795 2462. Those living in DHHS housing and have not had them replaced as yet or given a notification of a replacement date should call 1800 148 426.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.