Meet the member – Richard Hurst

Richard Hurst's career began when he joined the merchant navy as a marine engineer in 1966 at the age of 16. He undertook a five and a half year apprenticeship that included six months’ experience within the company’s own workshops and with the ship repair shore-based staff. He attained a First-Class Certificate of Competency and was appointed a second engineer officer at the age of 26.

“I became highly experienced in a wide range of engineering disciplines,” says Richard. “However, following an accident in which I smashed my pelvis, I could no longer carry out my role as a marine engineer.”

After leaving the merchant service Richard travelled to Nigeria, South America and the Gulf, repairing and building power stations. He worked as an installation engineer and a commissioning engineer, installing engines, pumps and pipework, resolving any issues so that the buildings could be signed off, as well as spotting any potential problems before construction began.

Expert witness

In 1989, Richard joined the Water Research Centre (WRc) as a test engineer, testing water fittings to see if they complied with water regulations. He was also a contract manager, overseeing the expert witness cases at the WRc, with responsibility for all testing services other than water byelaws compliance. He was also made responsible for all water byelaws-related consultancy operations.

Richard was promoted to senior account executive to maintain all previous management and contract responsibilities, in addition to undertaking a major new sales role regarding the company’s new certification scheme – Buildcert, which was introduced to expand the company’s testing role to encourage full product approval, assessment and certification, rather than regulations compliance.

“I was proud to be responsible for the commissioning of the water meter test rig built for use in the laboratory,” says Richard. “I suggested design improvements and authored the laboratory control procedures, test and calibration procedures, quality control procedures and uncertainty of measurement calculations for the test rig.”

Subsequently, he designed and built extensions to this rig to enable testing of large bore meters, and single and multi-jet meters. He was responsible for obtaining initial National Measurement Accreditation Service (NAMAS) and later UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation for these rigs and maintaining the accreditation in subsequent years.

“I was responsible for the initial ideas that lead to the initiation by the NHS of the D 08 standard for the testing and third-party certification of thermostatic mixing valves for healthcare premises,” reveals Richard. “This included initiating the project with NHS estates. I then sat on the expert panel writing the standard. I promoted the plan to manufacturers, which led to the initiation of the TMV3 scheme and its successful operation for more than 20 years.”

Richard was solely responsible for writing the laboratory test and calibration procedures, rig design, training of laboratory staff and gaining of UKAS certification at the first attempt. For some time during this period, he was also acting as the internal quality control auditor for all laboratory systems under the auspices of UKAS.

Richard has carried out many investigations during his career

“Over 60 expert witness investigations were undertaken during my time at WRc, and in self-employment around 10 cases a year,” explains Richard. “In particular, the work on the catastrophic failure of a water sewer tunnel in the South-West was a highlight. The two tunnels of 2.5 miles in length were to have a life span of 100 years, but failed within their first two years. The technical investigation and the production of the reports was led by myself, and the resultant recovery of the majority of the costs was due to the report’s technical quality and apportionment of the cause of failure. The settlement was negotiated in favour of our client without the need for a court case.”

Going it alone

In 2003, Richard set up his own water industry specialist consultancy, which operates in many areas of water engineering consultancy, including system design; with regard to water and building regulatory issues. His consultancy is also regularly employed in engineering cases requiring expert evidence.

“RAH Consultancy has advised major engineering and construction firms on their water system design and installation within multi-storey domestic accommodation, scientific laboratories and other major sites,” explains Richard. “We have also designed and overseen the construction of domestic hot and cold water systems.”

RAH Consultancy has been directly involved in the design and costing of major water system development in areas such as system failure, leakage from water mains, design and service investigation.

Richard is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and has also recently become a Registered Plumber.

“This qualification allows me to operate as an approved contractor within the meaning of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999,” explains Richard. “I can therefore sign off plumbing systems on works carried out by or under my direction as being compliant with the water regulations. I have long been an Incorporated Engineer and am now actively applying for promotion to chartered status under the auspices of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE).”

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