Katie Sweep-The Importance of Belonging...

I have now been a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) for just over a year. After being a chimney sweep for nearly 9 years I decided last year to become a member of NACS  as more and more of our customers require certification by a professional chimney sweep, these can only be issued by a trained and registered member of one of the professional chimney sweeping organisations.

The importance of belongingWith the arrival of my newest family member, baby Fitzwilliam our wonderful two  week old little boy who, as I sit here typing is laid fast asleep on me, and me taking some time off for my maternity leave, it seemed the right time to get another member of staff trained up. Our very own Val Sweep has just returned from the NACS National Chimney Training Centre in Stone, she is back and brimming with knowledge after having a fantastic time and completing the Three day part of the NACS training course, this is then to be followed up by a day’s onsite observation visit by one of the NACS tutors.

When I attended the course myself last year I found it very interesting and informative and even with years’ of experience I learnt all sorts of things, ranging from imperative safety advice for myself and my customers to handy tips on how to make day to day sweeping that little bit easier and if I had not become a NACS member I probably would have never known.

The three day part of the cause consists of practical hands on learning on the number of specially designed training rigs simulating a range of different appliances, chimneys and flues all expertly set up in the workshop area to resemble the type of household set up we come across day to day, using both traditional brush and rod sweeping methods along with the very latest Rodtech power sweeping equipment, the art of chimney sweeping is taught in a friendly and professional manner catering to the needs of both the experienced and novice chimney sweep.

The importance of belonging 2

Class room based learning is hosted by the president of NACS himself, Mr Martin P Glynn. Covering a vast range of topics such as the importance of regular chimney sweeping, its history, dangers and health and safety aspects of chimney sweeping, down to all about other industry bodys and the latest in Chimney technologies, not forgetting the all-important building regulation Document J, that I’m sure many others amongst you will also be very familiar with.

And yet amazingly many people still think all a chimney sweep does is stick their brush up the chimney, with no idea what a complex profession it actually. is A chimney sweep needs to be competent and prepared to deal with a whole host of situations.

One of great things about the course for me, aside from the excellent lunches and posh coffee machine, was to meet and chat with fellow chimney sweeps, both experienced and complete novices and to be able to exchange stories and experiences. It was wonderful, as up until that point other sweeps were mainly viewed as rivals (other than Val & Jayne sweep of course), so to be able to meet other sweeps from across the country in a friendly environment and form an alliance through the NACS was really wonderful.

Becoming a member of the NACS has massively improved my sweeping business and opened up a whole host of different jobs and clients we would have been unable to undertake work for otherwise. All our work sweeping Biomass boilers, multiple chimneys for Stately homes, housing for the Dioceses’, Heritage trusts to local housing associations all require a trained and registered professional sweep who is able to certificate their work.

Regulations are becoming more and more prominent  these days with many household insurance companies now also requesting certification as proof of sweeping to make sure the insurance stands if the worst were to happen.

The importance of belonging 3To my knowledge in many European countries all sweeps must be regulated and belong to an professional sweep association, it is also the law in a large number of countries including France and Germany that householders must have their working chimneys swept at least annually by law, and then with each region having their own regulations on top of that, for example in France…

The national regulations require that your chimney flue pipes or ventilation pipes are cleaned once a year. Local regulations in urban areas may provide for more regular cleaning. Thus, in Lyon all chimneys are required to be swept twice a year ’.

There have been several calls for the United Kingdom to follow our European friend’s example and also apply these safeguards. As it stands at the moment there are no require-ments nor laws in place so anyone who can lay there hands on any form of chimney sweeping equipment, correct or otherwise can ’have a go’ to who knows what end.

I have in the past been called out a few times to retrieve equipment belonging to the D.I.Y Chimney sweep!

All NACS sweeps work to the official National Code of Conduct and Code of Practice, with our moto being ‘helping to protect the customer’.

As well as the National Association of Chimney Sweeps there are other sweep associations including the ‘Institute of chimney sweeps’, the ‘Guild of master chimney sweeps’ and the ‘Association of professional independent chimney sweeps’ all working hard to make sure a high standard of sweeping is set across the country.

The importance of belonging 4Coming up this month is the fantastic annual Hearth and Homes exhibition taking part at the Harrogate Conference Centre on the 7th, 8th and 9th of June. I can highly recommend a visit to those who have not been before…and to those who have, I am sure you will be going along anyhow, a fantastic outing with the conference centre been packed with all things and people fire related. I am sure to be found chatting with the NACS team at somepoint on the Sunday afternoon and look forward to seeing all the other trades there to.

I would also like to wish Val sweep all the very best of Luck completing the 4th day of her NACS training, not that she needs it, and looking forward to her very soon becoming an official association member.


Read more from Katie Sweeps Diary https://www.fireplace.co.uk/chimney-sweep-diarist/59


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