A gas firm has demanded more than £2,000 from a young Craigavon family before switching their supply back on.
Noeleen Floyd and her partner Kieran Haughian, along with their three children aged from three to eight, have been living in freezing conditions for almost a month since having their supply disconnected.
Kieran explained that the gas metre installed by firmus had been erected on an out house wall at their Meadowbrook home.
Kieran, an experienced joiner, decided to take down the unstable part of the wall and subsequently called firmus. He explained that a team which had been working in the area arrived promptly with a digger and disconnected the supply.
Despite constant calls to firmus the firm insist the couple pay a £1,013.54 emergency response fee plus £1048.23 reconnection fee.
Noeleen, who is mum to Mia (8), Lily (6) and Fionn (3), said they simply do not have the financial means to pay.
She said firmus gave them two tiny economy electric heaters from Tesco which she said is costing them a “fortune” to run, plus they have no means of heating water to give the children baths.
“Fionn is dosed with the cold. I have to decide whether my children should have heat or feed and clothe them.
“It is the mouth of Christmas and I don’t know how we are going to cope,”
Noeleen has worked all her life but was made redundant a few years ago when she was pregnant, leaving the family’s situation more precarious.
Kieran told the Mail he works as a self-employed joiner but because of the economic climate he is finding it difficult to get work. “How do we go about paying this?” he asked.
Noeleen said that she suffers from depression and it becomes more severe in winter. “The stress of this is adding to it,” she said.
“Those heaters barely heat the rooms. One is in the living room and the other is in the children’s bedroom. They are all sleeping together to keep warm.”
Gas firm firmus said they had an emergency call from Ms Floyd on October 17 saying the wall to which her gas meter was attached had ‘subsided’.
A firmus spokesperson said an emergency response engineer arrived within one hour and 15 minutes.
“The emergency engineer found that the wall and all masonry rubble had already been removed from the site,” she said. Firmus provided a photograph which they said shows the gas meter and gas supply had been re-attached to the ‘side of a wooden shed with only two screws’.
“The gas service was in a dangerous state due to inadequate support and our engineering team had no choice but to excavate outside the property boundary, isolate the gas service and remove the meter box. It is our responsibility to ‘make safe’ any instances where there is a potential risk.
“We have not as yet been able to establish who removed the wall, however, had they contacted firmus energy in advance we would have provided a quotation to alter the gas service and meter position safely. We are in regular contact with Miss Floyd.”