The new Federation of British Chimney Sweeps
The Thatch Advice Centre has enjoyed a close association with Chimney Sweeps for several years now. We were very excited to hear about the formation of the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps. This is an “alliance of associations” and is an important development for their industry.
Who is the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps?
The Federation of British Chimney sweeps brings together the main chimney sweep trade associations and the industry’s NVQ training provider. This gives then an industry alliance which represents over 80% of the professional trade. They have held meetings and talks to discuss issues of industry governance, formal qualification and training. We understand the importance for them to have these issues dealt with from within the chimney sweeping trade.
Their main agenda was the need for “a unified voice to represent the views and interests of professional sweeps”. The associations involved are:-
Similarities with the Thatching Trade
It is said that, almost uniquely until now, the sweeping industry had no group or body to represent its interests. We see similarities in this and the thatching trade which is also fragmented and with no one who speaks for the majority of the trade, or even a quarter of it!
Luckily we are able to communicate with all thatchers, and we enjoy this role. No one has any jurisdiction over thatchers, the majority are independent and, if they are members of anything the worst that can happen is that they are thrown out of the club. It will not stop them thatching. It is very similar in the sweeping trade except now they are moving forward with the formation of the Federation. We can see the benefits of this important alliance and understand their reasoning.
The Federation is “a Central Point of Contact”
The Government Clean Air policy has recently thrown the solid fuel industry and chimney sweeps into the limelight. We understand that the Federation is now a central point of contact for government departments, official bodies and industry groups to communicate with the sweeps via their associations. Resources can be collated and not duplicated across associations and their common ground can be shared.
We love their comment “the whole stronger than the sum of its parts”. Compliance reporting and consumer guidance as well as local engagement will then be more effective. It is such a logical step which allows them their individuality as well as ability to stand together for their future.
The Federation and relationships with others
There are, and will be, relationships built up with the Federation, especially in regard to burning – primarily of solid fuels but also gas etc. From government to other institutions, having a central point of contact should be beneficial to all concerned. This will also include the relationships with the chimney sweeps themselves and also the consumers.
How the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps will work with us
A professional sweeps’ knowledge, skills and ability is not just sticking a brush up a chimney. As much as 70% of the work is inspection. You wouldn’t normally notice though because it’s all built into the routine of the job. Certificates, fuels and burning advice and much more. Sweeps have the opportunity to communicate with thatched property owners with working chimneys a lot more regularly than a thatcher. This puts them in a prime position to help us spread the up to date Thatch Fire Safety message. We see this as an important relationship so far as fire safety, solid fuel burning and insurance compliance are concerned. Certification from chimney sweeps is often part of the property owners’ insurance requirements and this input is, in many cases, essential to validate cover and for safety.
The Thatch Advice Centre look forward to working and liaising with the Federation in any mutual areas of interest or which have benefit of all our clients and visitors, for example the Burnright campaign and Clean Air Policy. Their sharing of knowledge and understanding of solid fuel installations, flues and regulations is also welcomed by us. We will, of course, continue our relationships with the individual associations and look forward to being part of the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps’ exciting future development.