Henican: Can home explosion be wake-up call?
Ron Fried said it best.
"Plumbers need to be licensed -- and as far as I know, water doesn't explode."
Fried and his wife, the writer Lorraine Kreahling, used to have a very old house in Greenport. It was built in 1830. On Valentine's Day in 2006, their beloved historic clapboard house was destroyed in a propane-gas explosion. Both of them were at home. They still can't explain how no one was killed.
"We both said when it happened, 'The next time, a child could die,' " Fried said.
As the couple began rebuilding their house, they got busy trying to make sure nothing like that ever happened again.
Fried wrote a piece in Newsday arguing that propane installers should be licensed all across New York State. New Hampshire had Amilia's Law, named for a child who had been killed in a propane explosion, requiring strict licensing. And in 2008, then-Assemb. Marc Alessi introduced a licensing bill in Albany, which got exactly nowhere.
"What I was told," Fried said, "was that the propane lobby was just too strong."
Some municipalities, Brentwood among them, do have regulations requiring licensed plumbers be involved to some extent. How far regulations go, how common they are, how strictly they are enforced and what impact they had in this case -- these are topics for much serious study.
Fried is far from certain.
"I'm not even sure that licensing would fix the problem," Fried said. "Maybe annual inspections should also be required. I just have the feeling we've been here before."
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