New Zealand has vast natural gas reserves, and currently natural gas is extracted in the Taranaki basin to fulfil the natural gas requirements in New Zealand.
As a result, the use of gas appliances has increased, especially as reticulated gas infrastructure has expanded. The reduction in coal use, as a result of environmental measures, has also impacted on the change to natural gas.
Gas stoves, gas hot water heating systems and heating are some of the common uses in New Zealand homes. There are also commercial and industrial processes that use natural gas too.
As natural gas use has increased, so has the need for more qualified gasfitters.
So, what is a gasfitter?
A gasfitter is a tradesperson specifically trained to install, alter and maintain gas appliances and gas systems. This can include, but is not limited to, fitting and fixing gas pipes and flues, installing gas hot water systems and commissioning new gas appliances. It also includes the fixing of appliances supplied by gas bottles.
Gas fitting is not just limited to residential and commercial buildings. Gasfitters also work on boats, yachts, ships, trains, motorhomes, house buses and caravans.
Although portable gas appliances do not legally require a gasfitter to maintain and fix them, it is recommended a gasfitter is used, as the work is specialised, and by using a gasfitter, the appliance will be fixed in a way to maintain its safety. Such portable gas appliances are gas BBQ’s, gas patio heaters and portable gas elements/burners.
Why is it important to use a gasfitter with gas systems and appliances?
When gas is burned efficiently, with the correct amount of gas being burned and the correct oxygen supply, the by products are mainly carbon dioxide and water vapour. However, if there are problems with the burning of the gas, the by product is carbon monoxide, which is an extremely lethal gas, especially when present in confined spaces and over a period of time.
Also, natural gas appliances and systems do pose a fire risk if not installed, maintained or used correctly.
Gasfitters are trained to not only install gas systems and appliances correctly, but also to recognise when a system is not working efficiently and in a dangerous manner.
So who can complete gas fitting work in New Zealand?
There are three types of gasfitters authorisation. The highest qualification a gas fitter can hold is one of “Certifying Gasfitter”. A Certifying Gasfitter is responsible for not only their own work, but all work of anyone they supervise. They must ensure that the work is completed competently. The next qualification is one of “Licensed Gasfitter”. A Licensed Gasfitter is holds qualifications and is licensed but must receive supervision over their work by a Certifying Gasfitter. The last type of authorisation is one of “Limited Certificate Trainee Gasfitter”. This is issued to gas fitters that are in the process of becoming qualified. They are able to do gas fitting work but they must have their work certified by a Certifying Gasfitter.
There are two types of exemption that people who work with gas can apply for. An Exemption 20 and an Exemption 21. These allow workers to do gas fitting work within the scope of their exemption. Some are allowed to file gas fitting certificates of compliance. Others can do gas fitting work but still must get their work signed off by a Certifying Gas Fitter.