Your home may be highly susceptible to a fire during an electrical storm. The Genoa Township Fire Department has responded to multiple house fires caused by failure of the natural gas piping from lightning. The pipe that is susceptible to failure is known as Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) and has been installed extensively in houses built in Genoa Township after the mid 1990’s.
CSST is a low cost alternative to black iron pipe. CSST is easy to install. However, because CSST is very thin, it is very susceptible to failure from an electrical arc. A lightning discharge, either directly to the house, or in the vicinity of the house can cause an arc which compromises the integrity of the CSST. The leaking natural gas is commonly ignited by the heat of the electrical arc resulting in a fire.
In 2006, due to the high number of fires, CSST installations were required to be electrically bonded and grounded. Bonding and grounding CSST, although it does not eliminate, reduces the likelihood of a fire from CSST failure. The bonding and grounding requirement however was not retroactive so homes built without the bonding and grounding remain more at risk of fire.
CSST generally can be identified by its bright yellow protective jacket (black in color is also now available). CSST is run either in the basement or attic to all gas operated appliances. It is not to be confused with the short (less than four feet in length) flexible gas supply lines used to connect moveable gas appliances.
The Genoa Township Fire Department recommends the following:
- Have a licensed electrician make repairs to a CSST installation that is not bonded and grounded immediately.
- Verify the installation and operation of at least one smoke detector in the vicinity of a CSST installation (basement or attic).
- Call 911 if you believe your house has been struck by lightning.
- Call 911 and evacuate the house if you suspect a CSST fire. Turn off the gas outside at the meter if you are able.
Bonding and grounding CSST does not eliminate the possibility of a CSST fire; it reduces it. The only 100% effective correction is to replace the CSST with rigid black iron pipe.
Genoa Township Fire Department offers a free CSST inspection to township residents. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an evaluation, please contact Fire Marshal Craig Skeel at firstname.lastname@example.org