Who would be a refrigeration engineer?
By Tony Deith
What kind of person do you have to be to become a refrigeration engineer? Do you have to be extremely clever or in some cases extremely stupid? Have you ever come across a particular problem or customer and think, why am I doing this?
Being a refrigeration engineer requires many different personalities or hats in order to be able to go about your job with as little hassle as possible. The first hat required is that of a dogs-body, this is worn when we first become trainees. However, this will change later to the hat of a human being once it is realised that we can now perform certain tasks, such as clean condensers and change the odd fan motor. Eventually we progress to that of human being with a personality that can perform a wider range of tasks, such as 24hr call and sometimes the odd first fix. Then comes the scary part - out on your own and without back up. When this stage is reached you have become an engineer (or you think you are.)
You are now out on your own and have a van (that is what it says in the logbook) and a set of tools, but use the term TOOLS lightly. The calls are now flooding in - literally, as most of them are water leaks, this is when you don the hat of a plumber and are now the face of the company in the customers eyes and always will be. As your confidence grows you, begin to feel that you can fix anything, but in reality, half the service department is following behind you and you are affectionately known as the rubber ball as everything you hit bounces. This will disappear over the next year and you will receive the title of engineer who is all right - especially when he covers my 24hr callout. At this point, you empty out all the hats from the bag and put them on at the same time, very fetching.
These hats cover a multitude of sins, firstly the communication hat that is used when bull****ing, I mean explaining to the customer what the problem is or when having a good moan about the job, as if we do that. The next hat is that of diplomat especially as you are the fifth engineer to attend the same problem this week (reference-rubber ball) and the customer is rather upset. Also, reference communication. The majority of engineers are blessed with common sense and some are not. But we are not all perfect, we all have our weaknesses and strengths whether it be in the mechanical or electrical hats that we wear when performing the role of refrigeration engineer, some people wear these hats well, some not so well and some not at all. Some people claim to have these particular hats, but nobody has ever seen them.
Everybody wears their hats differently and in their own style, which shows through in their personalities. Refrigeration engineers are a breed of their own who thrives on overtime and gossip, the juicer the better if you ask me. Over the last few years, good engineers are thin on the ground and less skilled personnel are tagging themselves as refrigeration engineers. That is not to say that not every body who comes into this trade from another trade makes the grade, but a few give the trade a bad name. Now that ACRIB are more involved and the trade is now better regulated the standard of apprentice to engineer should become better.