International Committee Expands Outreach

Over the past year and a half, IIAR’s International Committee has established working chapters in several Latin American countries and has its sights set on more countries across the region and the world.

Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Central America, Costa Rica and Mexico now all have active IIAR chapters, and the group is taking action to establish chapters in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil, as well as in Spain. “We’ve already been working in these countries, said Adolfo Balsquez, the International Committee’s Chair. “We know people and have been having conferences with them.”

“This is knowledge of refrigeration; this isn’t exclusive to the United States. You can do the same work right here in Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. It’s going to be safer, it’s going to be better for the end user, and it’s going to be better for the education system.”

–Adolfo Balsquez, International Committee Chair

In addition to outreach efforts, the International Committee helped facilitate meetings in several countries. The meeting in Costa Rica was particularly interesting because governmental officials were on hand to discuss the creation of national standards using IIAR materials as a framework. “We spoke with the Minister of ecology,” Balsquez said. “She’s very straight-forward and wants to get things done. I’m happy we’ve found these types of people because we’ve been taking giant steps to establish these standards.” Additionally, the International committee has been working with the Costa Rican government to register and certify all of the country’s refrigeration technicians and engineers.

“The good news is that we’re close to accomplishing this. Once we have these programs settled in Costa Rica, it will be easier to approach other countries to do the same. We’re going to engage the chapters we’ve established to start working with government agencies to look into adoption of IIAR standards.” Balsquez said he expects these standards to be fully adopted in Costa Rica within the next few months.

In Chile, the committee is engaging with the country’s biggest university to establish a master’s degree in refrigeration. To Balsquez’s knowledge, this would be the first such program in higher education. If this goal is not accomplished, though, he said the university system would still be offering certification programs for those interested in joining the industry.

News of this action spread to Argentina, Balsquez said. “They don’t want to be left behind, either,” he quipped. Next month the Argentinian chapter will hold a meeting in Mendoza, in the middle of the Mendoza wine producing region, and a major refrigerant consumer.

Additionally, Colombia recently held its meeting in Bogota, where hundreds attended.

Federico Alacon, Administrator for Latin America, said the IIAR Argentinian chapter also hosted a Safety Day in Rafaela, a fruit-growing region with many natural refrigerant end-users, attended by more than 250 people, including first responders and other government officials.

During the first part of the Safety Day, Rick Williams from the Ammonia Safety and Training Institute taught a 30-minute emergency response plan. In the afternoon, Carolina de la Fuente from the Ministry of Health presented the final version of the regulations on safety conditions in ammonia refrigeration systems which is based on IIAR standards and other information.

Implementation and compliance with these codes is a way off, but in the meantime, Alacon said he sees opportunity for the International Committee to help end users, technicians and engineers to fall into compliance by offering information and education programs.

Overall, there is an international momentum growing, and this momentum is very exciting, Balsquez said. By tapping into the international market, IIAR is positioning itself as a global leader in this industry. “[The] Spanishspeaking world – we are 650 million people. We can definitely get another three or four thousand engineers [in this region] to really engage with the IIAR,” he said. “This is good for two reasons – these professionals will be better in their work, and they will be safer.”

One stumbling block to this process is that oftentimes organizations such as IIAR are viewed as being effective only in their home country. Balsquez said the International Committee is committed to dispelling this misconception. “This is knowledge of refrigeration; this isn’t exclusive to the United States. You can apply the IIAR standards publications and educational materials right here in Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. It’s going to be safer, it’s going to be better for the end user, and it’s going to be better for the education system.”

Balsquez said that as knowledge and international adoption of IIAR standards spread, the industry will no longer be siloed and segmented, and this isn’t limited just to Latin America. The international committee is also making inroads in India, China, Europe and Australia, and already the committee has seen international membership grow, with many new members over the past year and a half. “This is going to help everybody. These members will be working on committees, and adding to the conversation,” Balsquez said. “These committees will be stronger, the information will be more diverse, we can accomplish more.”