An Open Letter to the Chimney Service Industry
From Mark McSweeney, CAE
Executive Director of the Chimney Safety Institute of America
and the National Chimney Sweep Guild
Earlier this morning, NBC's Today Show aired a segment featuring an undercover investigation on chimney sweeps. The Today Show "sting" operation took place at a home in the Northeast, where chimney sweeps were called in for a routine sweeping. When sweeps did not provide a thorough inspection of the home's chimney when recommending repairs or service, Today Show reporters and producers confronted them about their tactics.
Ashley Eldridge, Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)'s Director of Education, served as the lead technical expert for the segment. In his role as Director of Education, Ashley is responsible for the administration of the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® credentialing program and is a regular spokesperson for CSIA.
When presented with the opportunity to participate, we knew that it was our responsibility to help educate the public about what to expect when hiring a chimney sweep for regular maintenance. It is CSIA's mission is to encourage public awareness of issues relating to chimney and venting performance and safety. This segment serves as a great reminder that homeowners need to do their homework before inviting contractors into their home.
In response to the segment, both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Chimney Sweep Guild have issued statements to the media introducing the organizations' programs as the standard for the industry and outlining steps to take to verify industry memberships and credentials. We believe that the segment on the Today Show and the industry's response to the segment will open the door for continued conversations about how to hire a qualified, ethical chimney professional.
We encourage you to take this opportunity to proactively share your experience and credentials with your customers. Just like in any service industry, while there may be a few bad apples, we know there are far more of you out there who bring a high level of professionalism and ethical accountability to the trade. To confidently demonstrate to the consumer that you are among the best of the best, here are a few ways that you can set yourself apart:
• Verify that your contact information is accurate and up-to-date online at www.NCSG.org and/or www.CSIA.org.
• Verify that your membership and credentials are accurate and up-to-date on your own website.
• Invite your customers to verify your memberships and credentials online at www.NCSG.org and/or www.CSIA.org. Doing so helps to diminish the impact of competitors who falsely claim to have those same credentials.
• Provide your customers with references.
• Have a valid certificate of insurance available upon request.
• If your company is a member of NCSG, remind your customers that you have signed the NCSG Code of Ethics.
• If you have CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps on staff, remind your customers that each individual has signed the CSIA Code of Ethics and be sure that they are each carrying their photo identification cards.
Both the National Chimney Sweep Guild and the Chimney Safety Institute of America are here to support the industry by reminding homeowners of the need for annual chimney inspections and to help homeowners make informed decisions about the professionals who will perform those services. We believe that our media outreach brings awareness to these issues and hope that you, through your affiliation with NCSG and CSIA, will benefit from more informed customers.
All the best for a safe and successful season,
Mark T. McSweeney, CAE
National Chimney Sweep Guild www.ncsg.org
Office: (317) 837-1500 * Fax: (317) 837-5365
Chimney Safety Institute of America www.csia.org
Office: (317) 837-5362 * Fax: (317) 837-5365
NCSG and CSIA: Partners in the Future of Chimneys & Venting in America
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