The Section of Utilities utilizes a semi-self-paced training program called the Personnel Qualification System (PQS), designed to develop an individual that possesses basic mechanical skills — along with meeting the minimum basic education requirements — and train them to become qualified Utility Plant Operators.
About the Personnel Qualification System
In 1987, the Section of Utilities implemented the mandatory Personnel Qualification System (PQS) to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of day-to-day operations of the Central Heating & Cooling Plants (CHACPs). PQS provides minimum standards for employees to qualify as Utility Plant Operators.
The PQS program is a compilation of engineering fundamentals, plant operating systems, and casualty control procedures for which Plant Operators must demonstrate adequate knowledge and understanding. Employee progress is easily measured by a point system assigned to each specific task.
To qualify to the next level, employees must pass a comprehensive written examination and an oral board comprised of employees and supervisors. A Task Assigned Group (TAG) made up of Plant Operators drafted the intensive PQS Operating Policy & Procedure Governing Qualification, Advancement, and Disciplinary Action.
What makes up PQS?
PQS is composed of four sections:
- FundamentalsIdentifies the basic knowledge and theory of "how" processes occur. This includes but is not limited to the theory of boilers, turbines, thermodynamics, fluid power, pumps, valves, and refrigeration.
- SystemsIdentifies the function, components, parameters, interrelationships, and safety precautions within a particular plant operating system. This section includes all of the operating systems at the CHACPs.
- Casualty ControlIdentifies numerous possible plant casualties. Employees must learn symptoms, causes, possible related casualties, and the immediate actions required for safe recovery.
- Practical FactorsIdentifies practical tasks the employee must perform or demonstrate. Specific tasks include starting, operating, and stopping plant equipment and controls, performing maintenance tasks, and water chemistry analysis. In addition to PQS weekly training, the section training budget allows employees to attend courses, seminars, and workshops. Employees are also required to complete the Bureau of Labor Apprenticeship Program for Utility Plant Operator, First-Line Supervisor Training Course, and certify as a Universal Refrigerant Handling Technician.
Levels of Qualification
The PQS program is divided into the following levels of qualification:
- Utilities Trainee
- Utilities Operator I
- Utilities Operator II
- Utilities Operator III
- Utilities Operator IV
- Lead Utility Operator