Meet the member – David Gammage

David visiting the Hydrogen Homes site at Low Thornley in Gateshead

Like many 16-year-olds, David Gammage didn’t enjoy school and wasn’t keen on staying in full-time further education. Unsure which direction to take in his career, he “fell” into the plumbing and heating industry after leaving school in 2001.

“I persuaded my father to take me on as an apprentice plumber at the company where he worked,” explains David. “I started attending Croydon College one day a week, while getting experience out on site to help complete my portfolios. I worked with my father for more than 12 years and am now a third-generation plumber.”

After finishing college in 2004, David achieved both NVQ Levels 2 & 3 in Mechanical Engineering Services Plumbing, as well as ACS gas qualifications. In the subsequent years he went on to complete multiple different electrical and gas qualifications, as well as other qualifications, such as heat pump, solar thermal, F-gas and an NVQ Level 4.

David installing a boiler as part of his NVQ Level 2 qualifications

Breakout role

David’s first official role while completing his apprenticeship was working as a plumbing/gas engineer for a property management firm, Villagate Properties, based in Westerham, Kent. He had a wide-range of responsibilities, which included installing bathrooms and replacement heating systems.

“This provided me with good experience of dealing with older, more complex, and unconventional systems,” he explains. “I particularly enjoyed the landlord safety checks as there was a lot of variety, such as gas fires, back boilers and open-flued appliances that you don’t often see anymore, as most are room-sealed these days.”

David’s work took him to other countries, including Portugal and Barbados, where he carried out work on the company’s property portfolio including swimming pool boiler repairs and renovations.

Rising through the ranks

Over the years, David’s roles have always been customer facing, which he enjoys. After moving on from working with his father, in 2012 he started working as a customer care engineer for C Watkins Plumbing.

“This role was completely different, as I was primarily working with new-build developments, which was certainly eye opening,” recalls David. “I worked my way up through the company, taking on different roles such as maintenance engineer, which involved commercial gas service works of plants, including boilers and gas boosters, as well as planned preventative maintenance.”

David’s final role with C Watkins Plumbing was a quality assurance supervisor, with responsibility for ensuring high standards at a range of sites, from energy centres to individual dwellings, which included everything from houses to flats in high-rise residential blocks.

“This job included onsite inspections at different phases of the work, such as first fix, second fix, commissioning and handover,” explains David. “I was also responsible for writing all of the company commissioning policies and procedures, and presenting them to my peers.”

David is also a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers

Present position

David has recently become more involved with the gas compliance side of the industry. After completing his gas auditing qualification in 2020 he moved towards gas management and became the appointed domestic and commercial gas person for C Watkins Plumbing. He undertook several Corgi Technical Level 4 qualifications for gas in social housing and facilities management. He is now a member of both the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM) and the Association of Gas Safety Managers (AGSM).

David is currently technical director at the heat supplier Watkins Energy. “This means being involved with all aspects of heat networks where Watkins Energy is the appointed ESCO,” he explains.

“It’s my job to help facilitate everything from adoption of energy centres, dwelling acceptance testing through to ongoing monitoring and maintenance, and ensuring the systems are operating as efficiently as possible for our customers. This means ensuring plans such as heat interface units are correctly commissioned and set up, as per the consultant’s designs, as well as ensuring the water quality of the system is within the recommended parameters.

“We are also starting to become more involved with existing, older sites to try to bring them up to the latest standards, such as CP1:2020. On an increasing number of sites, the main heat source comes from commercial heat pumps, rather than gas boilers, which brings challenges, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with new technologies and standards.”

Industry view

Having attended events such as the InstallerSHOW over the past few years, David believes now is an exciting time for the industry, both in terms of its direction and new technologies. However, he believes existing systems should not be overlooked.

“While I am an advocate for heat pumps being installed when possible, I believe more should be done to improve existing systems,” says David. “For example, ideally you would bring gas boilers up to a higher installation standard and make them more efficient to operate, with smart controls, dynamic radiator valves, weather compensation and lower flow temperatures.

“As a gas engineer, I am interested to see if and how hydrogen will ever be rolled out at a large scale in residential housing stock. Having visited the Hydrogen Homes site at Low Thornley, near Gateshead, it was interesting to see working hydrogen appliances and the challenges they pose.”

Having been involved with heat networks for the past 12 years, David can see the benefits that they can bring.

“Low carbon heat networks will play a key role in the Government’s strategy for decarbonising heat, which remains one of the most significant challenges to achieving the net zero carbon target. With the proposed regulation changes for heat networks coming into force by 2025, it will be intriguing to see what this will mean for the industry.

“I enjoy learning new things about our industry and always will. I believe that is what keeps me engaged and interested. Courses such as the CIPHE low temperature heating and hot water qualification are a great way to give people an insight into this space.”

For more information about CP1:2020 standards, visit: www.cibse.org/policy-insight/news/cibse-updates-heat-networks-code-of-practice


Member benefits

David was introduced to the CIPHE by a colleague and has been a member for more than seven years.

“As well as utilising the great online tools it now provides, through structured learning and mycareerpath®, it has allowed me to go on and achieve EngTech registration as well as working towards my current path of IEng registration.

“I have been fortunate to meet some great people associated with the CIPHE. Publications such as the P&H Engineering magazine have really stepped up in quality. It’s important to see that the CIPHE is becoming more vocal in addressing issues such as skills shortages and training standards on the political stage.”

You might also like

Education – investing in the future

Education – investing in the future

Education - working as an FE teacher

Education - working as an FE teacher

Meet the member – Nigel Baldwin

Meet the member – Nigel Baldwin