UK: Certification body Refcom has stepped in to reassure companies that new alternatives to the existing F Gas refrigerant handling qualifications are recognised equivalents.
According to Refcom secretary, Steve Crocker, there had been concerns from training providers training apprentices that they couldn't guarantee that new C&G modules they were teaching were a recognised equivalent to the existing F Gas qualifications.
'City & Guilds has introduced two new qualifications and Defra has reassured me that they are valid for Company F Gas certification,' confirmed Steve Crocker.
'They told me: '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.