LUBBOCK, TX - A Texas mother said she's fighting a potentially dangerous gas tubing that could be in your home, and in a lot more homes across the state very soon if something doesn't change.
EverythingLubbock.com has been following the story for nearly five years, since 31-year-old Brennen Teel was killed in a gas explosion in a Lubbock home in 2012.
"It's changed our life. Every waking moment. Every breath,” Becky Teel said of her son’s accident.
Lubbock Fire Marshal Garett Nelson investigated the incident and said the explosion happened when lightning struck the home, hitting a certain type of gas tubing that his fire crews had been keeping an eye on for more than two years prior.
"Brennen's death was a senseless death. He was here visiting a friend,” Nelson said of the Rockwall native. "It really called our attention to, ‘Okay we've already been hearing about this potential problem, and now we've got a death in our community. I took that very personal, as I think anyone in the fire service does."
Nelson joined Becky Teel in her fight against the product called CSST, short for yellow Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing. National and international fire agencies and communities have agreed yellow CSST can be dangerous, especially in areas susceptible to lightning strikes. But the industry claims it is safe, when installed properly.
Nelson said he didn’t want to take any chances here on the High Plains, where lighting is common. They passed a city ordinance banning the use of CSST in residences, opting for a century-old black steel piping, or a lighting-resistant counterpart to CSST.
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"Our citizens deserve a higher level of safety," Nelson said.
Becky Teel agreed, “That's what I was working to do. To raise the standard of safety in the cities."
They successfully banned the use of CSST in Rockwall as well, and more cities were following suit. But now they're facing a Texas-sized roadblock.
"I would hope our state would take that personal,” Nelson said. “I would really hope that our nation and even the industry that created that would take that personal, and I'm not sure that they all do, and that's troubling."
This past legislative session, Senator Kelly Hancock, (R) North Richland Hills, added a last minute amendment to a different bill on espresso machines and boilers.
On the floor of the senate, Hancock explained his amendment about fuel gas boilers.
“To insure that municipalities follow national standards and nationally adopted codes for fuel gas pipe systems used in residential and commercial construction,” Hancock said.
It essentially prevented cities from banning the CSST product, like Lubbock did. The amendment passed without facing debates or hearings like the bill would have.
Senator Hancock refused an interview, but sent out this statement: “The amendment keeps all nationally code-certified options on the table so homebuilders and homeowners can make the wisest choice for their property."
Teel and Nelson said they were blindsided by how the amendment was passed.
"We didn't just wake up one day and decide we were going to pick on this product. That's not at all what happened. We spent years...literally...researching,” Nelson said. “Which is kind of interesting isn't it? All of the fire people in our state that have done a lot of a research into this and have an opinion, weren't consulted. You know, instead this was a decision made politically, attached to the back of a bill that has nothing to do with gas line safety."
This past July, after the law went into effect, EverythingLubbock.com told you about a lightning strike at another Lubbock home, where the the Fire Marshal said CSST caused a gas leak.
Nelson said it should be up to the cities to decide what’s best and safest for their distinct climates and locations, and that's what they were fighting for with the Lubbock city ordinance banning the tubing.
"We stepped out there and did everything in our power to try and do the right thing,” Nelson said. “I hope that's not taken away by back room decisions that didn't even look at the research."
Becky Teel said, it won't be.
"It's very disappointing, but I'm not finished."
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