Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician

Job description

Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration, aircraft-arresting systems and radar systems engineering support to operational units at home and abroad.

The Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician job is one of seven Construction Engineering positions that provide all construction, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering services to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations.

The primary responsibilities of the Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician are to:

  • Install, operate, maintain and repair fixed and mobile refrigeration systems and associated control equipment
  • Install, operate, maintain and repair heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and associated control equipment
  • Install, operate, maintain and repair Aircraft Arresting Systems
  • Install, operate, maintain, repair and overhaul mechanical systems associated with Aircraft Radar Systems
  • Produce associated designs and specifications
  • Produce associated mechanical drawings
  • Conduct reconnaissance related to the above

Transcript

I’m Aviator Brandon Simms, I’m from St-John’s, Newfoundland, I’m a Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician posted to CFB Trenton.

And I’m Corporal Steven Blundon from Newmarket, Ontario, a Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician posted to CFB Trenton.

BLUNDON: Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians, or RM Techs, install and service the refrigeration systems for our food storage lockers and the air conditioning units on base here at home and on deployments overseas.

SIMMS: Here at home, most of what we do is service calls on refrigeration and mechanical systems in headquarters buildings, shops, garages and barracks, and in the kitchens of the messes.

SIMMS: It could be something from: changing a belt in a filter, to replacing an entire HVAC system or working on a rooftop.

SIMMS: We also do a bit of steam work, air compressors, and ventilation systems. RM Techs service aircraft hangar doors and the mechanical components of our aircraft radar systems and of course, we’re soldiers first and foremost. 

BLUNDON: We also maintain, operate and rebuild aircraft arresting equipment. That’s the gear which acts as an emergency braking system for a CF-18 when it lands. It can stop a fighter in under 300 metres.

BLUNDON: Here at 86 ASU in Trenton, we mainly work on the aircraft arresting systems but we also get time to go over to the refrigeration shop to help maintain the heating and air conditioning and refrigeration on base.

SIMMS: Working on arrestor gear is interesting. It’s definitely a bigger part of our trade than a lot of people let on to believe. I mean, we do air shows across Canada basically all summer, doing soil installs, concrete installs. It’s just amazing, actually, what the arrestor gear side has to offer.

BLUNDON: To me, the diversity is the best part of the job. You’re not just specializing in one thing like most civilian jobs. We do a bit of everything.

BLUNDON: A good day as an RM Tech: you could be going from one job doing an overhead door, the next job doing radar towers, and then you can jump onto a roof to do the rooftop units, and working with HVAC. And then the next day, you could be coming into our shop working on the aircraft arresting systems. It’s one trade where you’re going to have to learn multiple different skill-sets.

SIMMS: I love the fact that it’s versatile. We have nothing that’s the same each day. It’s always different. When you go on deployment, that’s when things get really exciting. 

SIMMS: We have to make sure that all the tents and server rooms are kept cool and running.

BLUNDON: If serving as a Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician sounds like something you want to try, you’ll need a good background in math and science and a willingness to keep learning new things all the time. There’s a physical strength component to the job, too.

BLUNDON: To be a good RM Tech, you need to be good with your hands, and you need to be good with your mind. You need to have problem-solving skills, because the trade is ever-evolving and you need to be ever-learning.

SIMMS: After your basic military training, you’ll be ready for the School of Military Engineering in Gagetown. When you leave Gagetown, you’ll be posted to an Army, Navy or Air Force base in Canada and you’ll be ready for deployment wherever there’s a need for RM Techs.

SIMMS: You start doing little things here and there, and then you eventually get tasked with bigger things, working more independently, going out to calls by yourself or with a co-worker, and troubleshooting by yourself. You work up step by step and then you eventually get more training to become a journeyman.

BLUNDON: There are refrigeration and mechanical systems technicians on every base in Canada, so we’re pretty much good-to-go anywhere, which is another great thing about this trade.

SIMMS: I’ve been all across Canada, even in the first two years of being in the trade, just by doing air installs on the arrestor gear systems. I’ve been to Quesnel, I’ve been to Inuvik, I’ve been to Yellowknife doing installs up north.

BLUNDON: My favourite part about being an RM Tech is getting a skill base that will allow me to not only do my trade better in the military, but help me for when I retire out of the military.

Overview

Working environment

Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians often work with the challenges that come with varying environmental conditions. During peacetime, Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians maintain their skills while employed at home units or on humanitarian and United Nations operational assignments.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on your previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technician
  • Refrigeration Technician
  • Certified Engineering Technician (Mechanical)

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Training

Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic occupational qualification training

Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians attend at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Training takes approximately 24 weeks and includes:

  • Environmental skills such as defensive tactics and firearms
  • Care and use of common and special purpose tools and test equipment
  • Application of occupational codes and regulations
  • Interpretation of drawings and schematics
  • Fixed and portable refrigeration systems
  • Aircraft radar systems
  • Physics, mechanical, electrical and electronic principles
  • Aircraft hangar doors
  • Brazing and welding techniques

Specialty training

Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning controls
  • Aircraft arresting systems
  • Instructional techniques
  • Team leaders course
  • Fixed aircraft arresting technician course
  • Coastal radar mechanical systems course
  • Air surveillance radar mechanical systems course

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Entry plans

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec, including Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 436 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Air Force

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians may serve with the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force and are employed to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration, aircraft-arresting systems and radar systems engineering support for CAF training and operations. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military base, wing or unit located within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, occupational training for Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians takes approximately 24 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends (Air Reserve Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems Technicians usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day), although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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