The new refrigerant purchasing rules that took effect January 1, 2018 have had service shops, distributors and the MACS office in an uproar. At the MACS office, the faxes, emails, phone calls and mail deliveries never stop. Every technician wants to make sure they can buy refrigerant, but it makes me wonder: Do they know what to do with it once they get it? Are they handling it safely, properly and responsibly?
Many of the questions posed to the MACS staff about the Section 609 rules and test requirements from working technicians have been staggering for their lack of information awareness.
Since January 1, 2018 the MACS office has processed over 40,000 Section 609 certifications, the majority I am pleased to say are new Section 609 certifications of technicians actually taking the test which was updated in 2015 to include R-1234yf service and repair information. If you are ever going to service an R-1234yf system, this information is vital for repair procedures and for shop and personal safety. For $20, it is some of the most comprehensive training a technician can get on servicing mobile A/C systems with R-1234yf.
In 2010, MACS asked the U.S. EPA to require mandatory recertification of all technicians to include training in the service and repair of R-1234yf systems. In our letter we said, “…We contend that it is extremely important for the Agency to require specific training prior to the use of the new refrigerant by service technicians. We believe that voluntary training will leave an unknown (and very likely large) segment of the service community untrained and at risk.”
MACS also said, “The process of requiring individuals holding a particular certification to periodically recertify is common in the industry and referenced in the standards established by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The general purpose is to help ensure that certified individuals maintain competence over a defined time period. In the case of the certifying agency most respected in the automotive arena, ASE (National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence), that period is five years and is based on the estimated rate of technological change within the automotive industry.”
Training is available to all automotive technicians. As professionals, we should take advantage of as much career training as we can. However, because so many will not voluntarily be trained, EPA should require Section 609 recertification.