Policy last updated
9 November 2021
This policy sets out schools’ responsibilities for regularly maintaining, and safely using, gas heaters.
- Schools must know what type of heaters are installed in their school, including whether they are classified as Type A or Type B.
- All Type A gas appliances, including gas water heaters, space heaters and central heaters must be serviced at least once every 2 years by a qualified gasfitter to ensure that they are working properly.
- All Type B gas heater appliances must be inspected, serviced and cleaned at least once every year by a qualified gas plumber.
- These inspections and maintenance must be part of a school’s maintenance program or School Maintenance Plan.
- Schools must request and retain service reports, invoices and statements of compliance and schools with access to the new Asset Information Management System (AIMS) must upload this documentation into AIMS.
- Gas heaters that have not been serviced for more than 2 years (or in the case of Type B gas heaters, 1 year) or have been declared unsafe for use by Energy Safe Victoria must have clear signage stating, ‘Do not use this heater. It has not been serviced and is not safe to use’.
- Schools with any concerns about their gas heaters should turn them off immediately, and organise a full check and service by a suitably qualified gas plumber.
- For further information on gas heater safety, refer to Energy Safe
Victorian government schools are responsible for maintaining their infrastructure and buildings with funding from their Student Resource Package (SRP). This includes routinely inspecting and maintaining all gas heaters on school sites.
Inspections and maintenance of all gas heaters must be part of a school’s maintenance program or School Maintenance Plan.
For further information on gas heater safety, refer to Energy Safe
The routine inspection and maintenance of gas heaters substantially contributes to the requirement to identify workplace hazards and assess and control risks under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
Compliance and monitoring
The department is committed to assisting schools to effectively manage their compliance obligations related to school infrastructure.
The Asset Management Roles and Responsibilities Framework summarises the key responsibilities for corporate staff, principals and school councils for all key asset management activities including managing gas heaters.
The Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance Policy sets out the department’s compliance and monitoring process which consists of 3 principal steps:
Asset Information Management System (AIMS)
Over 2021 and 2022, the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) is rolling out a new Asset Information Management System (AIMS) to all schools. AIMS will make it easier for schools to manage their assets and related compliance obligations within a single portal.
As schools gradually transition to using AIMS they will be provided with a transition date, staff training and support. Refer to the department's advice on AIMS for further information.
The first step in meeting your school’s infrastructure-related compliance obligations is to identify the mandatory maintenance activities relevant to the infrastructure on your school site.
For gas heater management, this starts with knowing what type of gas heaters are installed in the school and whether they are ‘Type A’ or ‘Type B’, as this classification affects servicing requirements. These servicing requirements are detailed in the ‘Manage’ section of this policy.
The majority of all appliances are Type A. Type B appliances operate with a gas consumption above 10MJ/h or have manual shut off fittings and can only be serviced by plumbers who have a Type B licence qualification.
The types of heaters that your school may have are listed below:
- Instant hot water systems, which are typically Type A.
- Open flued gas space heaters, ducted heating systems, room sealed gas heaters will all typically be Type A. Those that are Type B should eventually be replaced for Type A. Futher information about Open flued gas space heaters and ventilation requirements can be found in the Gas heater safety — general information for schools section of this Policy.
- Boiler heating (that is, a boiler in a Plant Room) which will typically be Type B.
- Portable heaters. For more information on these heaters, refer to Energy Safe Victoria's Gas Information sheet .
Schools can refer to Energy Safe Victoria’s for Type A and Type B appliance definitions.
Gas heater details are contained in service reports issued by a qualified gas plumber after a gas heater is inspected, serviced and cleaned.
From this, schools with access to AIMS, must create a Schools Gas Heater Register. The register should be updated after each scheduled inspection.
AIMS will request the below information (for each gas heater installed at the school):
- building and room location of gas heater
- make and model of gas heater
- year of installation
- date of manufacture
- serial number
- appliance condition
- fluing system condition
- declared Status (Operational/Non-operational/Unsafe)
- room ventilation
- date of last service
- copies of service reports and compliance certificates.
AIMS will issue an annual request to schools to review and update their Schools Gas Heater Register to ensure gas heater information is kept up to date.
Schools who are not using AIMS should continue to maintain their own local arrangements until AIMS is available.
To comply with the mandatory requirements for gas heater management, schools must ensure that:
- all Type A gas heater appliances are inspected, serviced and cleaned once every 2 years by a qualified gas plumber
- all Type B gas heater appliances are inspected, serviced and cleaned at least once every year by a qualified gas plumber.
Inspection and maintenance must be conducted by a qualified gas plumber who:
- is qualified for type A in the case of domestic or light commercial appliances (gas consumption less than 10MJ/h).
- is qualified for type B gas appliance servicing where the appliance's gas consumption exceeds 10MJ/h.
- has undertaken carbon monoxide training through the Victorian Building .
Schools must request and retain:
- service reports
- a Gas Heater Type A Appliance Service Report whenever a Type A gas heater is inspected, serviced and cleaned by a qualified gas plumber.
- a detailed service report whenever a Type B gas heater is inspected, serviced and cleaned by a qualified gas plumber.
- any issued Statements of Compliance.
Schools with access to AIMS must upload this documentation into AIMS.
The Gas Safety (Gas Installation) Regulations 2018 require a person carrying out gasfitting work to take certain actions if they become aware of a dangerous installation that presents a threat to life or property. They are legally required to make the installation safe.
If for any reason they are unable to make the installation safe then they are required to notify the school, Energy Safe Victoria and the gas supplier without delay. Energy Safe Victoria will work with both the school and gas supplier to make the installation safe. In this situation, the school principal will need to notify the VSBA for assistance.
If the cost of the rectification work on a single heater is $750 or greater, the gas plumber must lodge a Statement of (schedule 11) with the Victorian Building and provide a copy of this statement to the principal. All rectification works must comply with the National Construction , the Building Quality Standards Handbook, and Victorian government purchasing and procurement standards.
As schools have their gas heaters serviced and inspected they must instruct their gas plumber to inspect for any appliances that are subject to an Energy Safe Victoria safety alert or recall. The current list of appliances can be found on the Safety alerts and product recalls on the Energy Safe Victoria website.
Gas heaters that have not been serviced for more than 2 years (or in the case of Type B gas heaters, 1 year), or have been declared unsafe for use by Energy Safe Victoria must have clear signage stating, ‘Do not use this heater. It has not been serviced and is not safe to use’.
The VSBA monitors compliance with mandatory maintenance requirements (using AIMS where possible) and responds to non-compliance at a school and system level through direct support to schools or revision of policies and procedures.
The VSBA will monitor compliance with the mandatory gas heater maintenance requirements using the information and reports uploaded to AIMS.
Gas heater safety — general information for schools
Safe gas heater use
Do not leave an open flued gas heater on overnight, for extended periods, or when not required.
Do not operate exhaust fans at the same time as you operate a nearby open flued gas heater. This includes nearby toilet or bathroom fans which can create a ‘negative pressure’ effect where carbon monoxide, which should escape out the flue, is drawn into internal spaces. For more information refer to Energy Safe Australia's fact sheet on Negative pressure .
Schools must ensure there is adequate ventilation. While it is not necessary to have windows and doors wide open on a cold day, ventilation is important to ensure the heater operates correctly.
Schools with any concerns about their gas heaters should turn them off immediately, and organise a full check and service by a suitably qualified gas plumber. Only resume using the heaters if approval is obtained from the gas plumber.
Open flued gas heaters and ventilation
Any gas heater can leak carbon monoxide, including new heaters, central heating units, spaces heaters, and wall furnaces.
Open flued gas heaters can pose a greater risk of carbon monoxide leakage. Open flued heaters draw air from the room to feed the fire and direct combustion products outside via a flue. Inadequate ventilation and use of exhaust fans can draw carbon monoxide (and other exhaust gases) back into the room in certain circumstances. More information, including a list of Energy Safe Victoria -certified open flue gas heaters can be found on the Energy Safe Victoria website.
When deciding whether to replace a gas heater, schools can consider:
- if the heater has been subject to a safety alert or recall.
- if a gas plumber has recommended replacement.
- if they are planning to upgrade their wider heating system in the short-term.
A qualified gas plumber must submit a gas application to Energy Safe Victoria before installing a new gas heater. The gas plumber must also submit a signed compliance notice (schedule 11 of the Gas Safety Regulations) after completing installation and before commissioning the heater.
Schools should maintain copies of all gas applications and compliance notices as part of their asset management system documentation.
The Building Quality Standards Handbook provides advice to support school decision-making on safe and sustainable heating.
Support for schools
Schools are allocated funding for routine inspection of gas heaters via the Annual Contracts and Essential Services allocation of the SRP. Costs associated with the repair of gas heaters are funded within the Maintenance portion of the SRP.
In some situations where a school has insufficient funds for critical repairs costing $5000 or more, they may apply for assistance through the VSBA’s Emergency Maintenance Program. For more information, refer to the Guidance tab of the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Policy.
The department supports schools to meet their mandatory compliance obligations through the work of the Asset Management Reform Implementation unit which supports schools with managing their Annual Contracts (including gas heaters).
In addition, the School Asset Leadership team provides direct guidance and support to schools on request and the School Maintenance Advice and Planning team provides support to schools to complete and operationalise their School Maintenance Plans. These teams can be contacted through the VSBA number and email listed on the “Contacts’ section of this page.
AIMS will assist schools to manage their assets and related compliance obligations within a single portal. Schools not yet provided access to AIMS must continue to maintain manual records that reflect the completion of compliance obligations.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas resulting from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels.
Open flued gas heaters
Internal gas heaters and appliances are designed to operate with one of two common types of flue:
- a room-sealed flue, which is usually fitted through the wall.
- an open flue, which is fitted through the ceiling and roof and can pose a higher risk of carbon monoxide leakage.
There is no further guidance for this topic.
Building quality and standards handbook
- The Building Quality and Standards Handbook sets the minimum quality criteria for all Department capital projects, including new construction, refurbishment and maintenance works.
- Energy Safe Victoria — the independent regulator responsible for electricity and gas safety in Victoria. Their website contains further information on gas heater safety.
- Victorian Building Authority — contains information about training that must be undertaken by a qualified gas plumber.
Reviewed 05 March 2020