New Hampshire is the first state to include North American Technician Excellence (NATE) technician certification as a component in obtaining an HVAC technician's license, which will be required in the state as of January 2007.
The legislation states that New Hampshire contractors must use technicians who “have had mandatory training and are licensed to ensure proper installation and repairs of gas systems.”
NATE technician certification is one of four options technicians may use to prove their competency and obtain a license. Licenses must be renewed every two years by completing an application for renewal and paying a renewal fee.
Amilia’s Law (HB 1711) establishes procedures and guidelines for licensure of fuel gas fitters in New Hampshire, provides the public a way to recognize fuel gas fitters, provides employers with a formal structure to train employees and test their knowledge and skill
levels, and provides technicians with the knowledge to properly perform their jobs.
Improper gas installation could lead to fire, explosion, or even carbon monoxide
poisoning. Propane fitters also are required to be licensed by the state.
Amilia’s Law is named for Amilia Lurhmann, who was killed In May 2003 when a leaky gas fixture caused the family’s Lake Winnepesaukee home to explode. Amilia was killed, and her parents, two siblings, and grandparents were injured in the blast.
After the accident, Amilia's parents, Craig and Michelle, initiated a campaign to pass the law, which included a website with details about the accident, news links to coverage about the campaign, and photos of Amilia with her family. Carl Smith, NATE director of marketing and public relations, told Contracting Business that the enforcement mechanics for the bill include four ways to earn a certification for the state of New Hampshire, "but one way or the other, if you’re a contractor, you will have your technicians certified.
"Much like with a driver’s license, you’re going to be required to show you know the ‘rules of the road,’” says Smith.
The industry committee giving guidance to the wording of the law’s enforcement mechanism and other specifics included the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors (PHCC) of New Hampshire.
According to Smith, Amilia’s Law will also have significant effect on contractors and technicians in the New Hampshire border states of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Technicians in those states who travel into New Hampshire to perform gas appliance work will also have to carry proof of certification and licensing.
“The American Home Comfort Study by Decision Analyst, Inc. has shown for almost 10 years that consumers want the assurance a ‘certified technician’ brings,” says Smith.
“Homeowners knew about the concept of certification from what they had seen in other fields, such as computer science, medical technicians, and dental technicians, or police technicians. Certification gives a level of assurance; it tells the consumer the person has the requisite skills,” says Smith. NATE has sample legislation available on its website for use by interested groups. In a recent American Home Comfort Study by Decision Analysts, 88% of consumers indicated that it was important to them to have certified technician work on their home comfort systems.
Founded in 1997, NATE is the only technician certification which has been fully
supported by all segments of the HVACR industry, the EPA, VA, and endorsed by the
DOE. There are over 25,000 NATE-certified technicians nationwide. NATE certifies
technicians for installation and/or service in air conditioning, air distribution, gas heating,
heat pumps, oil heat, hydronic gas heating, and hydronic oil heating specialties.
Consumers can locate contractors with NATE-certified technicians by going to
www.natex.org, clicking on the Consumers heading and then selecting Consumer-
Contractor Connection to identify contractors near them.
For more information on NATE, contact Carl Smith at 703/600-0361, or by email at [email protected]