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The inquest ruled that a more modern cooker could have prevented Mr Burford's death


By Advertiser Reporter


An inquest has ruled that the death of an elderly man at his home could have been prevented had his cooking appliance been a more modern one.

The inquest, held at Nottingham Coroner's Court on Wednesday, heard Ronald Burford, 88, of East Grove, Bingham, was thought to be cooking himself breakfast at around 6am on April 12 when, at some stage, all four gas hobs were ignited, which caused a build up of gas.

This then ignited when Mr Burford attempted to light the cooker, and his clothes were set alight, and he suffered extensive burns and carbon monoxide toxicity.

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Investigations officer Lucy Poxon, of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the Mr Burford lived in the housing association-owned first-floor flat independently with informal help from friends, and was able to dress himself and cook for himself.

Giving her evidence, Lucy Poxon said that in the morning in question, Mr Burford's neighbour, who lives in the flat beneath his, was disturbed by a bang coming from the flat above at around 6am and the fire alarm was sounding.

She knocked on the door but had no response. The smoke alarm then stopped.

A member of the housing team arrived at her home shortly after 8am and she reported her concerns to him.

He also knocked on Mr Burford's door and upon receiving no response, called Nottinghamshire Police.

Officers reported a smell of gas coming from the flat and forced entry, where they opened a window to ventilate the property and called Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue for assistance.

A Firecrew from Bingham arrived on the scene quickly and went into the kitchen, where Mr Burford was found in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room with extensive burns to his body.

He was removed from the house by fire officers and CPR was attempted by ambulance crews, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at around 9.15am.

The fire investigation team found the remains of an egg in a single saucepan on the hob, and it was found that at the time of the fire, all four gas rings were open.

Since 2008 it has been a requirement that all gas cookers have a flame failure device, a safety measure to shut off the gas supply to the cooker if the flames go out, but Mr Burford's appliance did not have this feature.

As the cooker was the victim's own appliance, it did not require safety checks from the housing association.

Mr Gordon Clow, assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire, ruled Mr Burford's death as accidental due to carbon monoxide toxicity.

He said: "It is more likely than not, in my judgment, that something impaired Mr Burford's safe use of the hob and either he did not realise that he had all four burners open, or he was unable to reliably switch off the burners.

"Mr Burford's death could have been prevented, in my view, if he had a more modern cooker fitted with a thermocouple.

"I also heard from the fire officer that a device called a locking cooker valve can be easily installed, which would allow carers of an elderly person to disconnect the gas supply and very easily switch it back on again when the carer is present.

"Although this would doubtless prevent future deaths, and I most certainly encourage anyone concerned for a relative or friend's safe use of a cooker, I cannot say that there is anything which ought to have been done by any of the agencies involved with Mr Burford."

Mr Clow extented his condolences to Mr Burford's friends and family, and thanked Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue for their assistance.



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