New alternatives to the existing F Gas refrigerant handling qualifications for refrigeration contractors are valid for qualification, says certification body Refcom.
Refcom Secretary, Steve Crocker, explained: “We had a situation towards the back end of last year and the beginning of this year where training providers were training apprentices, only to find that they couldn’t guarantee that the modules they were teaching were a recognised equivalent to the existing F Gas qualifications.
“Qualification requirements are written down in law under the F Gas Regulation so, if there are changes, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has to alert the European Commission (EC) to this.
“It is important for companies to understand that there are choices in terms of F Gas qualifications. City & Guilds (C&G) has introduced two new qualifications and Defra has reassured me that they are valid for Company F Gas certification.”
Defra told Mr Crocker: “Learners will be issued with a certificate of unit credit demonstrating that they are F-Gas Category 1 competent once they have successfully completed either units 230/530 together or units 209/509 together, consisting of a multiple choice test and practical test. They will not have to wait until completing all of the other units from the 6187 or 7189 NVQ diplomas.”
The new qualifications join two existing qualifications – C&G 2079 Category 1 refrigerant handling and the Construction Skills J11 safe handling – that have been in place for the past four years.
Mr Crocker added: “Instead of apprentices attending a three to five-day course for the existing F Gas qualifications, if employers want to send them to college to do an NVQ, they can complete specific modules (C&G units 230/530 of the 6187-01 or 6187-02 NVQ diplomas and units 209/509 of the 7189-02 or 7189-03 NVQ diplomas) that are a direct equivalent to the existing F Gas qualifications.
“When they go to college, they do these modules first so they become qualified under F Gas and the ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) Regulations.
This means they can legally work on systems more or less straightaway and are therefore more ‘useful’ to their employer. Once they have completed the modules, they finish the rest of the course over two or three years.”
Refcom maintains a register of companies competent to manage refrigerants, including fluorinated refrigerant gases. It operates a certification body under the stationary equipment provisions of the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations.
On 4 July 2009, it became a legal requirement for all businesses that install, maintain or service stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and/or heat pump equipment containing or designed to contain F-Gas refrigerants to obtain an F-Gas Company Certificate.