Tag Archives: APHCI

‘100,000 Illegal boilers putting lives at risk’

Sean Giffney, APHCI Chairman

Sean Giffney, APHCI Chairman

The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Ireland (APHCI) is briefing the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources today (18/02/’15) about the deepening industry crisis which has seen up to 100,000 illegal boilers installed in family homes across the country which have the potential to cause fatalities.

Unhappy with the totally ineffective system of safety regulation currently in place — which is not fit for purpose and which does not effectively tackle the widespread abuse of the industry — APHCI is calling for an independent public enquiry and for a new system of pro-active policing of illegal operations.

APHCI says it has tried to engage in ongoing discussions with the Regulator for some time about the ineffectiveness of the system and reached tipping point with the conclusions reached in the recent CER Report forcing it to take action by meeting with the Committee. According to APCHI, clearly stated in the report is the fact that up to 18,000 boilers are installed illegally each year, yet the Regulator states that they are happy with the current system and that it is working effectively.

Chairman of the APHCI, Sean Giffney said: “Our members have been concerned for some time about the Regulator’s passive approach to tackling the ongoing safety issues and illegal activity in the industry and today we are taking a stand and saying enough is enough.  We are deeply grateful that the JOC recognises the seriousness of the issue at hand and we are hopeful that with their help we can finally work towards a system of effective regulation of the gas industry and ensure the safety of thousands of families across the country.

“Thousands of lives are at risk because of an ineffectual system and some 100,000 families and businesses have had boilers installed without the necessary safety certification since the current regulatory system began in 2009.  We are meeting with the Committee today because we are worried about poor installation standards and the real risk posed to public safety and because we want this problem solved once and for all.”

A recent survey carried out by the APHCI among members revealed that a staggering 98% of the gas installers surveyed have no confidence in the current regulator or the system that is in place, which allows unregistered installers to operate unhindered with little or no chance of being prosecuted.  The CER has been responsible for only a handful of prosecutions in recent years and none of these have resulted in serious sanctions.  The current system is laughable and not nearly strong enough to deter black market operators, according to APCHI.

Building Services News Celebrates 50 years of Continuously Serving the Industry!

Joe and Pat

Joe and Pat

Right from the outset Building Services News has been an integral part of Ireland’s building services industry and not just a magazine serving the sector. Publisher and Editor Pat Lehane sits on the executive of most of the industry professional and trade representative bodies and the journal has been instrumental in the establishment of many of these organisations.

In addition, Building Services News plays a major role in promoting and facilitating cross-over activity between these bodies, and provides secretariat support and accommodation addresses for many. It also guides and champions many industry causes, coordinating joint activities into lobbying and petitioning groups to act on behalf of the industry as a whole.

Building Services News provides the industry with saturation coverage of the building services sector. It is available in three formats – the print edition which is posted directly to individually-named industry personnel; the web edition, which is freely available to all; and the Facebook page, which is inter-linked with the web edition.

To all of you participating with us in this celebratory golden anniversary edition we say thank you. A small number of you have been dealing with the publication since day one, while many others have been trading partners for a considerable number of years. Of course there are also those of you who have joined us in recent years. In marking the occasion our collective vision should, and is, on the future.

In perusing the archives spanning 50 years we now realise how lucky we are to be part of such a vibrant, dynamic industry sector. In the early days the role of building services was perhaps under-rated by society in general.

Today, that has changed. Rising energy costs, a demand for more comfortable home and working environments, and a genuine sense of social responsibility in respect of the environment has put building services centre stage. What an opportunity – the future for the industry is bright and secure!

However, commercial success is only part of the story. The building services sector is also very much about people, and about a work/social interactive balance. We have been lucky to have made many friends down through the years. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us.

We dedicate this issue to their memory.

Non-Registered Gas Installers — Surely Court Penalty Should Reflect the Offence

imgresRGI LogoOn Monday, 1 September last, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) prosecuted an individual from County Dublin for illegally portraying himself as a Registered Gas Installer, specifically using the Registered Gas Installers (RGI) logo on his company website. This case was heard at the Dublin District Court.

At the time, this individual was not a Registered Gas Installer, and therefore committed an offence under the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999. Apart from the offence, the fundamental point of the Register is one of safety, as registered gas are subject to inspections to ensure their work is in compliance with all relevant safety standards and good practice.

However, the Court allowed the defendant to pay a sum of €500 to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. In addition, costs of €250 were awarded to the CER. While Crumlin Hospital is a very worthy charity, what message does such a meagre penalty send? Why bother becoming a Registered Gas Installer? You might never be detected and, even if you are, the chances are the Court penalty will be a mere “slap on the wrist”.

This level of penalty for misrepresentation as a Registered Gas Installer is no deterrent to those who flout the law while, in addition, it is an insult to gas installers who do comply with the letter of the law. It also does little to ensure the safety of gas installations.

APHCI & CER – remember, you’re on the same side!

APHCI members protesting outside the CER Headquarters in Dublin

The recent protest by APHCI members outside the CER headquarters in Dublin served to highlight, yet again, the lack of genuine communication between the two bodies. They have had their differences in the past but this is the first time such a demonstration has taken place on the CER’s doorstep (see Building Services News, May/June 2014 issue, Page 2).

The contentious issue at the centre of the current dispute is the introduction of the CER’s new mandatory training programme. It is not that APHCI does not want training, or even mandatory training, but it disagrees with the method of delivery of that training programme.

For its part CER has recently demonstrated a new-found determination to prosecute non-registered gas installers (see Building Services News, May/June 2014 issue, Pages 4 and 28). This is something APHCI has been lobbying for for years.

So, while on the face of it APHCI and CER seem poles apart, the reality is that they both have the same objectives. The sooner this is realised and some honest and open dialogue is engaged in, the sooner their respective strengths can be harnessed to make some real progress.

APHCI shows leadership

Over the last six months APHCI has shown tremendous leadership in fighting the cause of domestic installers, lobbying Government Ministers and Departments, as well as the industry regulatory bodies such as RGII and the CER.

However, it has also worked hard at generating a sense of cohesion and unity within the business itself, and creating a “can do” attitude among installers throughout the country.

The series of nationwide seminars has proved particularly effective in this respect with literally hundreds of installers regularly attending gatherings hosted by different manufacturers.

In addition to gaining product knowledge and learning about new technologies, the evenings also present business and social networking opportunities.

A bonus has been the guest speaker spot where leading figures such as Dermot Jewell, CEO of the Consumer Association of Ireland (pictured), make a presentation.

PMI kicks off APHCI seminar initiative

Sean Giffney, APHCI with Minister of State Ciaran Cannon, TD; Jimmy Egan, APHCI and Paul Clancy, Managing Director Potterton Myson Ireland.

The mood on the evening was extremely positive with Sean Giffney and Jimmy Egan from APHCI, along with Paul Clancy and Vincent Broderick from PMI, making presentations that were both enlightening and encouraging.  Main guest speaker was meant to be Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan TD. However, he was unavoidably delayed but Minister of State Ciaran Cannon, TD, proved a more than able deputy. 

In addition to presenting an overview on legislation in relation to water and the practical roll out of water meters, as Minister of State with special responsibility for Training and Skills (Department of Education & Skills) he also demonstrated an understanding of the key issues in relation to the training and registration of gas installers.

The format for the event also proved extremely successful. PMI laid on an excellent food spread for contractors as they arrived, including a bar, so by the time they sat down for the formalities everyone was comfortable. Between them Paul Clancy and Vincent Broderick kept the product presentations concise and to the point, outlining the strengths of Baxi and Potterton domestic and commercial gas boilers, Myson Controls and gas and electric water heating solutions simply and directly.

They also presented details of PMI’s Works Installer Loyalty Programme, and gave €50 in points against contractor’s first boiler purchase to all new members signing up on the night. 

A very important part of the evening was the opportunity to get “hands-on” experience of the vast PMI range which was professionally displayed, with PMI technical personnel on hand to discuss any questions/queries. This part of the evening included a “Myson Controls Challenge” where installers could win PMI Heating Controls Zone Packs. All in all this proved a very successful event and augers well for the forthcoming series which will continue to take in the same Dublin venue, along with other major locations throughout the country.