What is CSIA and F.I.R.E. Certification?
For the most part, the chimney industry isn’t regulated. What does this mean? It means that anyone with a ladder and some tools can claim to be a chimney technician. Unfortunately, this puts homeowners at a severe disadvantage. When choosing a chimney sweep to clean your fireplace, you’re better off paying close attention to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and Fireplace Investigation Research and Education (F.I.R.E.) certification status of the prospective chimney sweeps. What does this mean exactly? Keep reading to find out!
SELECTING THE RIGHT SWEEP FOR THE JOB
In an effort to help homeowners with this decision making process, the CSIA recommends taking somewhat of a cautious approach to selecting a chimney sweep, as getting your job done right the first time is the ultimate goal. Homeowners will more than likely want to ask some or all of the following questions of any prospective chimney sweeps:
- How long has your company been in business?
- Do you offer current references?
- Do you have any unresolved complaints filed with the city or state consumer protection agency or BBB?
- Do you carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect my home and furnishings against accidents?
- Do you ensure that a CSIA-certified chimney sweep will be on the job site?
Asking these questions will usually guarantee that your chimney is cleaned correctly and will decrease the chances of you ending up with a living room full of soot when all is said and done.
The CSIA is one of the only nationally recognized certification institutes specifically for chimney sweeps and chimney inspectors. They have classroom training and standardized testing requirements to receive the certification in the first place:
- Complete a 1 week online review course covering chimney sweeping, inspection and documenting basics.
- Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the 2006 International Residential Codebook with a score of 80% or higher.
- Pass a timed 100 question exam based on the Successful Chimney Sweeping  trade book and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)  codebook with a score of 70% or higher.
What’s more, the CSIA has certain requirements and a code of ethics by which their certified chimney sweeps must abide in order to remain certified. Certified chimney sweeps must also recertify annually and participate in continuing education courses.
The F.I.R.E. Certification program is the most advanced education program within the hearth industry. The goal for all certified inspectors is to prevent property damage and personal injury to help reduce the number of structure fires that result in millions of dollars of property loss and personal injury every year. These losses and injuries can be reduced with an accurate evaluation by a qualified F.I.R.E.-certified fireplace and chimney inspector.
All F.I.R.E.-certified inspectors have successfully completed three (3) advanced educational courses. In an attempt to stay on top of the ever-changing products, standards and building codes, they’re required to re-certify every three (3) years and are required to attend additional education programs. This re-certification and continuing education allows them to focus on your system with greater accuracy. This professional approach reflects their dedication to their chosen profession and the welfare of their clients.
When selecting a chimney sweep, there are obviously many things a homeowner must consider. Before you make that final decision, I implore you to heed these words: not all chimney sweeps are created equally. The number one goal at Chimney Saver Solutions is to make you and your family as safe as possible in your home. Ignorance is bliss until you suffer loss of property or, God forbid, someone’s life. This is what drives us to be the best-educated and trained in everything we service or install in your home. It’s what we talk about, care about and what we do.