National Code of Practice for Chimney Sweeps
The work of a professional chimney sweep is not generally well understood, even within the solid fuel industry. They obviously clean chimneys but there are many kinds of chimney and many appliances, different kinds of soot and a wide range of professional tools to master. A great variety of situations may be faced on a daily basis. Some situations will require good underpinning knowledge of building regulations and installation requirements. This knowledge is obviously vital when identifying and advising on dangerous situations. Others will test the sweeps understanding of the inter-relationships between the multiple factors that influence chimney function. This understanding is vital in situations where a customer has a problem as a professional sweep is the best person to identify the reasons and offer correct solutions.
Professional sweeps regularly advise consumers on the most suitable appliances and fuels for their situation. Advice on how best to use an appliance and fuel is often required due to a lack of good basic awareness by users. This is valuable in terms of reducing fuel waste thereby saving money, reducing deposits in chimneys which increases safety and reducing air pollutants which benefit us all.
Access to this specialised knowledge and working practices is available to sweeps via training and support offered by professional trade organisations. There is however, no requirement for someone calling themselves a chimney sweep to have undertaken any training whatsoever or for them to register with any professional body. This most certainly puts the public at risk as it is not always easy to tell if the sweep is a trained and registered professional. Indeed, there is such a lack of consumer awareness surrounding many aspects solid fuel appliances and chimney sweeping, that the reasons as to why a customer should engage a trained professional in the first place are not well understood.
For these reasons The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and The National Association of Chimney Sweeps were compelled to work together to improve the situation
Introduction to the Standard
Early in 2013 the UK's two leading professional chimney sweeping trade associations, the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and the National Association of Chimney Sweeps, produced the "Industry Standard" for professional chimney sweeps.
Protecting the consumer is the primary concern. The Guild and the NACS felt that they could not continue to allow the public to put at risk from untrained or poorly trained sweeps with little or no regulation.
Many consumers are unaware that there is no statutory regulation of chimney sweeps or their work in the UK despite the very real need and there is nothing to stop a completely incompetent and dangerous sweep from working. The Guild and the NACS have recognized the need for unity in this area and worked hard to produce a good basic standard.
What does it mean?
Householders, companies and organisations seeking the services of a chimney sweep should ensure that the individual meets or exceeds the Industry Standard in order to receive the safest, most professional service. After all, professional sweeps are required to advise on many vital safety issues concerning solid fuel use, from ventilation provision right through to the chimney terminal. They are at the front line in terms of immediately dangerous situations as well as the provision of valuable practical consumer advice. Sweeps who meet or exceed the requirements of the Standard will need to prove their position. The consumer will have greater recourse for complaint if a sweep who claims to meet the Standard subsequently falls short.
As the Standard becomes widely adopted, consumers will have a clearer idea of who to engage for their chimney sweeping service and will know what to expect from such a person. In order to further enhance the Industry Standard, Sweeps meeting the Standard are required to issue an Industry Standard certificate (the Standard is printed on the reverse) and, where necessary, an Industry Standard Warning Notice and Label.
Daniel Hodgson, chairman of the Guild said "Hardly a day goes by when we don't hear of some issue concerning untrained / badly trained sweeps and occasionally there are tragic consequences. As the Industry Standard for chimney sweeping becomes more widely adopted it is hoped that basic consumer awareness of solid fuel use will increase thereby increasing public safety."
The Standard covers:
Training, practical assessment, theory assessment, accreditation of training and assessment centers, competency of assessing organisations , sweeping practice and technique, minimum tool kit including vehicle, safe working practices, prevention or limitation of contamination during sweeping, building regulations and compliance issues, procedures for documentation and recording of work undertaken, procedures for documentation and reporting of un-safe / non-compliant situations, complaints procedures, waste disposal procedures, compliance with COSHH requirements, proof of identity, Personal Protective
Equipment requirements and use, insurance requirements.
There are currently two organisations in the UK whose members automatically meet the requirements of the Industry Standard, members of The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and members of The National Association of Chimney Sweeps. Many of these members will have areas of expertise far in excess of the Standard.
Individual Chimney Sweeps who are not members of the Guild or NACS may sometimes meet the Industry Standard.
Please take the time to read through the Standard and the accompanying certificate. Any questions can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org