Lightning Protection Institute Expresses Concerns about a Common Gas Piping

Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) Pipes Have Been Linked to Fires, Gas Leaks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — MARYVILLE, Mo, April 27, 2017 — The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is telling its members to take liability precautions when installing lightning protection systems (LPS) on homes equipped with corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), a common gas piping.

Lawsuits have alleged that CSST’s thin-walled composition has made it susceptible to fires caused either by lightning strikes or gas leaks linked to perforations in the piping. CSST manufacturers have denied charges that their products are either defective or contributed to property damage which would otherwise not have occurred.

“While safety Standard-compliant lightning protection systems provide proven and effective protection for homeowners against a leading weather threat, continued litigation and unknowns about CSST are a concern for our industry,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director for LPI.

“Unfortunately, the efficacy of these bonding practices hasn’t been verified, so there isn’t data to assure us that these tactics are solving the lightning susceptibility problems associated with the CSST product,” explained VanSickle. “Due to safety unknowns and the continued litigation, LPI is advising its members to disclaim CSST in very clear terms in their work proposals and documents.”

Concerns about CSST have prompted a national public awareness campaign, National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA) reviews, lawsuits and class action settlements.  One was reached recently, for instance, with property owners in Maryland http://www.csstsettlement.com/.

LPI recently began a partnership with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) http://www.firemarshals.org/ to help promote awareness and improve safety measures connected with CSST and the product’s susceptibility to lightning. Both groups are supporting efforts within the codes and standards community to increase performance criteria for CSST products.

“Documentation for CSST fire incidents is nonexistent, which makes it impossible to understand and solve the problem,” said Becky Teel, spokesperson for the Brennen Teel Foundation http://www.btfgaslinesafety.org/.  Teel’s son, Brennen, died in 2012 in a Lubbock, Texas, home fire and explosion allegedly caused by the failure of yellow jacketed CSST.

According to the fire marshal’s report, lightning struck the metal chimney cap and arced to the gas piping of the Lubbock home where Mr. Teel was visiting. Brennen Teel, who was 31 years old, was killed when gas which had escaped through tiny holes in the CSST piping—reportedly punctured by the electrical charge produced by a direct lightning strike—ignited an explosive fire.

“We need a central database to catalog the important information about this fire risk, and we need it now,” added Teel.

“Great strides have been made in constructing fire-resistant buildings and improving fire-suppression techniques, both of which have reduced the number of fires in the U.S.  Nonetheless, builders, firefighters and insurers are constantly working to mitigate fire risk wherever it exists,” said Michael Barry, vice president, media relations, Insurance Information Institute.

“The lightning protection industry has taken notice of numerous and mounting CSST-related lawsuits around the country—we’re concerned about protecting homeowners and our members,” said VanSickle. “As a nationwide group dedicated to lightning safety and lightning protection, we will continue to petition the codes and standards community for more improvement and urge the CSST manufacturers to support more research.”

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

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Contact: Kimberly Loehr LSA/LPI Communications Office kiml@lightning.org 804-314-8955