F Gas – Setting the standard?

FGAS CertificationF Gas 2079 has featured heavily as big news since 2011 with the aim to tighten up the trade and increase standards, but has this been achieved?

F Gas 2079 is the certification and legal requirement for the Safe Handling of Refrigerants. It can be gained by completing a 3 or 5 day course. In summary, it covers how to remove and add refrigerant to Refrigeration & Air Conditioning (RAC) Systems without releasing any refrigerant to the atmosphere. It is slightly more in depth than that and the reasons behind its creation are very well founded.

However, in our opinion there is one fundamental flaw with this system. There is no prerequisite for prior RAC training or qualifications, or the previous 2078 Safe Handling of Refrigerants certification. This enables it to be opened up for abuse, and let us explain why.

To become a fully qualified RAC engineer you need to complete a City & Guilds Level 2 NVQ as a minimum. This is a 2 year course, 1 day a week at college & 4 days a week at work. F Gas 2079 is one module within the course and is usually not completed until the second year so that people already have a good grasp of how an RAC system works.

Within this 2 year course there are modules to pass and a variety of assessments to be completed including, to name but a few:

  • On site assessments from college tutors
  • Portfolio work
  • Fault finding
  • Electrical
  • Pipework and much more

This course brings the engineers training in line with British Standards. As well as college, you must also have had 2 years minimum working alongside fully qualified engineers, gaining invaluable experience and knowledge of various RAC systems.

By opening up the F Gas 2079 course to anyone, i.e. no eligibility requirements, they have opened up the RAC trade to electricians, plumbers, heating engineers, general contractors, handymen and anyone else who wants to take the course. Currently, to purchase new RAC systems or refrigerant from suppliers, all you need is an F Gas certificate. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee standards or confidence that the work is being carried out by a fully qualified engineer.

On the other side of the coin, there has been so much noise created by F Gas, that customers now only ask to see F Gas certificates. Have City & Guilds qualifications become null & void?

If you are looking for a new RAC contractor, then please be aware that there are currently a lot of companies who hold F Gas certificates, but no other qualifications. By passing work to companies like this, you are taking the risk that the engineers on site are not fully qualified in the RAC trade. This could cost you money, downtime, and mean many return visits to try and rectify issues.

Would you really want anyone, regardless of other trade qualifications, installing equipment on your site without the knowledge and expertise to do so?

As a minimum, you should ask your RAC contractor for the following certificates:

  • F Gas Company Certificate
  • F Gas Personal Certificate for every engineer working on site
  • City & Guilds RAC Certificate for every engineer working on site

With just these 3 certificates you can ensure that the work is being carried out by adequate, trained engineers.

To give a different representation of what hiring an unsuitably qualified engineer can mean; would you call an air conditioning engineer to install a new ring main? Would you call a refrigeration engineer to install a new central heating boiler?

Carlton Services engineers have all qualified as minimum with NVQ 2 and F Gas 2079, and with many more quality assurance, Health & Safety and manufacturer accreditations, Carlton Services are very well placed to deal with all RAC enquiries. Contact us today for further information or assistance.

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