Albert's demonstration shows that the regulator valve inside the heating systems has been tampered with, and this is how the fires are starting. What Ira did was to, if I remember correctly, reverse the diaphragm, which is intended to slow and then stop the release of gas. When it's reversed, gas instead never gets completely shut off. Matthew Ryan mentions this, saying it's stupid, you'd end up with a gas leak. Of course, that's what Hogeboom wanted.