Written by Sean Cleary 3:59 pm ASSE, Backflow Prevention

Whose Certification Is It?

Yesterday I received a phone call from the owner of a fire sprinkler installation and service company. It was a type of call I typically receive several times a year. After he introduced himself, he told me that one of his employees attended and successfully completed one of IAPMO BPI’s ASSE 5110 Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester classes in 2016. He informed me that the employee had resigned and was planning to start his own business. The owner then requested that we terminate his former employee’s backflow certification. When I told him that we would not do that, he became very agitated and made it clear to me that since his company had paid for the employee to attend the class, the certification belonged to his company and not to the individual who had successfully completed the certification training. We spoke on the subject for several minutes and I attempted to explain to him that the certification belongs to the individual, not the company, and what he was requesting was both impossible and unreasonable. I would like to say the conversation ended well, but it did not. No matter what I said, he would not accept the fact that the certification belonged to the individual, not the company.

Too many people seem to have the misconception that companies are Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester Certified. I have even seen tester lists published by water suppliers or city departments that list companies, as opposed to individuals, as the certified testers. From time to time, we all hear about individuals testing under another person’s certification number or another person’s supervision. The certification belongs to the individual and the individual alone. Several jurisdictions are now using individuals’ photos on certification cards, and that is an excellent idea. I do feel bad for the owner of the contracting company – he paid for his employee to become certified and now the employee has moved on. I have found that in companies that treat their employees fairly, and reward them with good pay and benefits, people tend to stay. However, no matter how well treated, individuals simply move on sometimes. They feel the need to try something new or, in the case we are looking at, go into business and try their hand at becoming the boss. I wish this individual the best of luck in his future endeavor, but I have a feeling he will find it much more challenging than he ever thought it would be.

This is the first issue of ASSE International’s new publication, Working Pressure, and I am honored and excited to have been asked to write a regular column in the publication. I have been involved with ASSE since the early 1990s and am delighted to have worked with, and in the society since that time. ASSE has a long and proud history, dating back to 1906. Their motto, “Prevention Rather Than Cure,” is as important in 2018 as it was in the beginning. Please enjoy each issue of the new publication and if there is something in the cross-connection industry you would like to discuss, please let me know. I can be reached at sean.cleary@iapmo.org.

Article first published in Working Pressure magazine

Sean Cleary
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Sean Cleary has been a member of United Association Local 524 Scranton, Pa. for more than 40 years. He has worked in all phases of the plumbing and mechanical industry, and is a licensed master plumber. Cleary is a past president of ASSE International and past chairman of the ASSE Cross-Connection Control Technical Committee. He is employed by IAPMO as the vice president of operations for the Backflow Prevention Institute (BPI).

Last modified: December 19, 2023