Furnace mechanic training to begin

Yukon College will begin training new oil burner mechanics in August. As many as 12 apprentices could begin their classroom training this fall. Two have already registered.

Yukon College will begin training new oil burner mechanics in August.

As many as 12 apprentices could begin their classroom training this fall.

Two have already registered.

The Yukon government has provided $223,867 to the college to support the program.

The commitment comes in the wake of legislative changes that require all installations and modifications of fuel-burning furnaces be done by certified journeypersons.

Those changes came in response to the death of five people in a Porter Creek home from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Their oil furnace had been poorly maintained, causing the chimney to completely ice over, a coroner’s inquest found.

But Rod Corea, an Ontario-based industry expert, began sounding the alarm on poorly-installed furnaces back in 2007.

One report found that only four of 305 residential furnaces inspected by Corea met the federal building code.

The government struck a working group in 2012 after the tragic deaths, and their recommendations closely echoed what Corea had been urging for years.

One of the recommendations was that all routine maintenance and repairs be done by certified oil burner mechanics.

But the government says that capacity does not exist, especially outside of Whitehorse, to make that a requirement – there simply aren’t enough certified mechanics in the territory.

For now, only installations and major modifications will require a certified mechanic.

In the meantime, the government will focus on training more mechanics.

But the government does not know how many mechanics the territory has, or how many it needs, according to information obtained from the department of education this week.

The department could confirm that since 1983, Yukon Apprenticeship has certified 68 oil burner mechanics.

Minister of Community Services Elaine Taylor has said that the goal would be to get a certified mechanic in every community, but Yukon Education could not confirm that demand in all communities would be sufficient to sustain this.

“The need for oil burner mechanics in communities varies greatly, so again the demand is difficult to determine,” said spokesperson Eilidh Fraser.

There are two paths to becoming a certified oil-burner mechanic.

One is a formal apprenticeship route. This program requires a total of 5,400 hours of training, including two levels of classroom training and three levels of on-the-job experience.

To register with Yukon Apprenticeship, one must be a Yukon resident and have a job with a certified journeyperson in the field.

Working or training 40 hours per week for 50 weeks of the year, it would take nearly three years to qualify for the final exam. A score of 70 per cent or better would earn Red Seal certification.

Alternatively, someone who can prove they have worked as an oil-burner mechanic for 8,100 hours, or more than four years, can skip the formal training and sign up for the exam.

After receiving certification, there is no guarantee that mechanics would stay in the territory, said Fraser.

There is also no way to force them to service the communities, where demand is likely lower.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com