Customer disputes fireplace explosion with company
COMPLAINT: John LaBrake, St. Petersburg, Fla.
"I purchased a new gas fireplace from Florida Fireplace Systems of Pinellas Park [Fla.]. Their installer, Tony, placed the unit in an opening my contractor had framed and connected it to the chimney vent and electricity. A few hours later, my propane gas Business Centered the gas line. Soot began to build up as I used the fireplace, so I called Florida Fireplace Systems. Tony returned and told me an adjustment was required to prevent the heavy soot buildup. He said I could continue to use the fireplace safely, but I should have the hearth stone removed by my granite supplier so he could gain access to make the adjustment.
"Later, before I could get the granite removed, the fireplace glass exploded and sent tiny bits of glass onto my living room floor. I used the emergency shut-off and immediately reported the damage to Florida Fireplace Systems. Owner Cynthia Shasteen came to my house and stated over and over that her company and the installer are not licensed gas installers and were not to blame for the explosion. She blamed the propane company. She also told me the fireplace should have had a conversion kit installed to allow operation with propane.
"Tony knew I was going to use propane, and the propane company told me the fireplace should have been installed with the conversion kit already in place. The company charged $550 for installation and then sent an unqualified, unlicensed worker to install the appliance."
DESIRED RESOLUTION: "They should take full responsibility for the expenses I incurred to return the fireplace to as-new condition."
COMPANY RESPONSE: Jim Shasteen, president, Florida Fireplace Systems
"While it is unfortunate that the member had a problem caused by the gas connection to the fireplace, this problem was caused by the faulty work performed by a contractor or subcontractor unrelated to Florida Fireplace Systems. Our company only sells fireplaces; we do not connect these fireplaces to any gas or electrical power source.
"This was clearly stated on his invoice, and we supplied an installation manual. The member hired his own gas contractor to do the gas piping and connection. We did not select, supply or install any of the surrounding structure. When we were notified of his problem, we sent an independent contractor at our expense. A granite hearth had been installed by the member or his contractor too close to the fireplace's face frame to allow it to be removed. The installation was not in compliance with the instructions we had furnished.
"After a month's delay, the customer paid for the new parts. We hired a gas contractor to install the new parts. When we followed up with the member's wife to confirm the repairs had been made, she indicated she was satisfied. We acted quickly in repairing the problem, even though it was caused by others. We are disappointed he now wants to hold us entirely responsible for the cost of a problem we did not cause."