Graham Boyle, F.AIRAH
Graham Boyle, F.AIRAH, is portfolio manager at South Metropolitan TAFE in Perth.
He is author of the highly regarded Australian Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (ARAC) manuals, a former AIRAH board director, and was a longstanding member of the WA division committee.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
I was born in England and lived on Tyneside with a brief sojourn to Leeds, where I started high school. I finished school at Year 10 back on Tyneside and almost completed a pre-apprenticeship at Hebburn Technical College before migrating to Western Australia at age 15 – my first ever flight was London to Perth and it was a real eye-opener travelling on my own.
I had my 16th birthday on the road to Wittenoom in the Pilbara. Started work the next day for Australian Blue Asbestos (the “Blue Sky Mine” in the Midnight Oil song).
I left home on the day Australia switched to decimal currency and moved through various jobs in agriculture, construction (Harold E Holt Communications Base) and oil exploration, before finding myself back in the Pilbara working on the construction of the Port of Dampier Ore loading facilities, where I was introduced to refrigeration and air conditioning.
Eventually I completed an apprenticeship with Hamersley Iron (now Rio) as a refrigeration mechanic and moved to Perth a few months after Cyclone Trixie gave us a very sleepless night. I worked for Direct Engineering Services in Perth (the company that started manufacturing air conditioners that became APAC) as a tradesman, service manager and contract supervisor.
I then moved into education and training when I successfully applied for a lecturing position at Perth Technical College. I’ve now been with TAFE for 40 years.
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
I completed a bachelor’s degree in education and more recently, with a change of focus, completed a degree in theology and was ordained as an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Perth.
I enjoy gardening, cooking and singing. For a while I belonged to a choir called the “Harmony Singers”. We performed at various venues, telethons, etc. and it was amazing fun. A bit of a metaphor for life when you can harmonise – discord is really that, the wrong notes clashing.
I love reading, have always been interested in history, and take an active interest in politics, climate change, renewables, energy management and environmental issues.
I was married in Dampier to a girl from Cooma – one of the first weddings in that new town built for iron ore. We have two children and three grandchildren.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I was introduced to AIRAH as an apprentice coming to Perth to study. The senior lecturer in charge of RAC training when I was an apprentice and when I started teaching was Brian James, who was also an AIRAH member and was probably a committee member. He promoted AIRAH to everyone who came to study refrigeration and air conditioning in Perth.
While I would go to AIRAH events, it wasn’t till I attended my first conference in Sydney around 1992 that I decided to join and was then co-opted onto the committee. I retired from the WA divisional committee in 2019 after 27 years.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
I took on the project to develop a national textbook for RAC trade training in the mid-80s and was given six months to finish. It took me two years. I nearly gave up after the first chapter!
I don’t know whether I would describe it as a favourite project, but it was certainly one that gave me a great sense of relief and achievement when I completed it. Walking into bookshops around the country and seeing ARAC on the shelves gives me a great sense of pride.
How have you seen the industry change in your time?
When I started in refrigeration, the main refrigerants we used were R22, R12, R502 and a bit of R500. I had never seen an ammonia plant, because everything we saw onsite in Dampier and Karratha was new equipment with no local cold store big enough to require ammonia; we didn’t come across sulphur dioxide or methyl chloride.
When the discussion started about phasing out CFCs, I couldn’t believe it. These were the only refrigerants I knew! There were no alternatives! So, I think that first step to transition away from CFCs was the biggest change I have seen.
With that change came the introduction of synthetic oils and the use or refrigerant recovery units, which were simply unavailable previously.