Trade associations and membership societies representing North America’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry requested that federal, state, and local authorities grant “essential business” status to those technicians and engineers who are tasked with keeping the American people productive, healthy, and comfortable in these trying times. (To see whether HVACR technicians are considered essential workers in your area, check here.)

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) joined with nine other organizations, representing the HVACR and water heating equipment manufacturers, contractors, technicians, engineers, plumbers, and sheet metal contractors in issuing a statement to governmental organizations grappling with travel and personal interaction restrictions designed to prevent the spread of infection.

“While citizens are coping with a variety of unforeseen and unusual restrictions, it is essential that they are able to maintain their HVAC and commercial refrigeration equipment,” the association leaders wrote. “Aside from providing comfort, this equipment is vital for health and safety in addition to productivity, particularly for air filtration and food and medical supply preservation, especially in this time of quarantine. When equipment fails, technicians must be able to repair or replace it as quickly as possible,” they added. “Accordingly, as states and local jurisdictions considering their health crisis travel restriction plans, we respectfully request that HVACR technicians and engineers be considered essential businesses,” the statement concluded.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), which signed the statement, added that HVACR contractors should be exempt from any mandates that require businesses to temporarily close or individuals to self-isolate. The organization noted that HVACR contractors should be considered emergency service providers because they perform necessary, life-saving services on several components of our nation’s most critical infrastructure. This includes, but is not limited to, the healthcare industry, the agri-food supply chain, cooling for data and information technology centers, and essential heating, cooling, and refrigeration needs for vulnerable populations.

ACCA is also urging Congress to adopt legislation to aid workers and businesses impacted by coronavirus.

"The time for partisanship is over,” said Barton James, president and CEO of ACCA. “Small businesses, in particular America’s HVACR contractors, need immediate action from the federal government to ensure businesses stay open and that they can pay their employees. Contractors need assistance to reduce the potential for future layoffs, and they don’t need partisan fights that hold up essential tools that will help them maintain their operations and pay their workers.”