Understanding where an organization has been is an important part of determining the best course for the future. Before we look forward in this month’s Progress edition, let’s take a moment to look back at where the National Chimney Sweep Guild has been. This timeline was initially compiled by previous Guild staff members for the 20th anniversary of the organization. It has since been updated by volunteers and staff members alike.
The chimney Sweep Guild, brainchild of Kristia Associates’ Eva Horton, forms in Portland, ME, with 22 members. Guild operations are handled by Kristia Associates, a wood stove import company.
The Chimney Sweep Guild publishes the first issue of The Chimney Sweep Guild News.
More than 100 chimney sweeps attend first Chimney Sweep Guild convention in Portland, Maine.
First Board of Directors meets on July 7 in Washington, DC. Board of Membership expands to 400 individual members.
Through the efforts of Guild member Larry Hempsall, the first National Chimney Sweep Week was held October 2-8 and recorded in the Congressional Record.
The National Fire Protection Association invites the Guild to appoint a representative to the NFPA 211 technical committee.
Members vote to change name to National Chimney Sweep Guild at fourth annual convention in Minneapolis, MN.
NCSG launches certification program. Originally valid for five years from test date, the open-book, 50 question exam was available by mail.
Board member Robert deMontigny takes over day-to-day operations of Guild from Kristia associates. Guild relocates to New Hampshire, with communications office in Maryland.
The quarterly Chimney Sweep Guild News becomes monthly Sweeping.
Guild meets with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to explore ways to improve wood-heat safety. USFA invites Guild to attend a major industry conference.
Guild turns down a merger offer with the Wood Heating Alliance, now Hearth Patio Barbecue Association, deciding to go it alone for sweeps’ sake.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) asks Guild members for help in a public education campaign designed to reduce deaths and injuries from solid-fuel appliances.
More than 300 sweeps attended NCSG’s fifth birthday party, celebrated in Springfield, MA, with a 60-pound birthday cake.
CPSC asks Guild members to participate in an investigation of prefabricated, metal chimneys. Guild asks CPSC to require labels on wood stoves that explain the need for yearly maintenance.
The newly formed Chimney Safety Institute of America holds its first meeting. Original directors include: Harry Richart, president; Hugh Maine, vice president; John Jamnick, secretary; and Lesley Van Dusen, treasurer. Mary Ann Beaufait was appointed to one of the open seats on the new board, and U.S. Congressman Robert Toricelli agrees to serve on advisory board.
NFPA adopts recommendation that every chimney must be inspected annually and cleaned when necessary.
Guild meets with FTC officials to discuss problems with untrained or fraudulent chimney sweeps. Although the FTC decides against regulations, they offer to help educate consumers through their media contacts.
Harry Richart established the first Technical Advisory Committee and selected its members.
Don Leavitt of Don Leavitt Enterprises in California is awarded the first Presidents Award.
NCSG asks CPSC to ban homeowner do-it-yourself cleaning kits because of incomplete or inaccurate instructions, and the importance of inspection by a professional. Guild president Harry Richart presents evidence of oil and gas flue deterioration to CPSC, including flue tiles eaten through by condensation.
NCSG publishes the first edition of Successful Chimney Sweeping. Two years in the making, the manual represents the first time standard chimney service practices were written down anywhere.
Guild offices consolidate in Olney, MD. In an effort to reach insurance companies with chimney safety information, NCSG exhibits at the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies convention in St. Louis.
National Chimney Safety Team made up of certified Guild members cleans and inspects the 12 chimneys, 19 flues and 35 fireplaces and 35 fireplaces at the nation’s best known address. The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Phase I of EPA emissions standards for wood stoves go into effect, covering particulate emissions from catalytic and non-catalytic wood-stoves and fireplace inserts.
New bylaws ensure regional representation by requiring a director from each of the geographic regions in the country. Membership changes from individual to company under the new rules.
Swedish delegation attends NCSG convention in San Diego and invites an official U.S. delegation to the next meeting of the European Federation of Chimney Sweeps.
Guild members help achieve changes to UL 1777 the limit sweep liability. Manufacturers have the option to test their products in a zero-clearance situation.
NCSG introduces regional seminars to help sweeps prepare for the certification exam.
Along with the representatives of the U.S. Fire Administration and the Wood Heat Research Foundation, NCSG’s Pete Luter appears in a satellite video conference aimed at education fire department education offices about the safe use of wood stoves, fireplaces and space heaters.
Board authorizes development of a sweep training facility. Hy-C Company donates $5000 to get the school up and running. Volunteers Ashley Eldridge, Pete Luter and Jim Brewer create curriculum.
The once dormant Chimney Safety Institute of America takes over the Guild’s certification program. A grant from the Wood Heating Alliance helps fund work on a research paper documenting chimney fires.
CSIA publishes Chimney Fires: Causes, Effects and Evaluations. Also known as the white paper the in-depth technical research paper serves as a tool to educate insurance companies and other industries about chimney fires. Jerry Isenhour, technical committee chairman, and consultant Dave Johnston worked with other volunteers on the project.
First National Chimney Sweep Training School held July 27- August 1, with 18 students attending.
Board created a chimney safety education project, which has since resulted in eight popular consumer-oriented brochures that help sweeps educate.
Dick Van Dyke, America’s most recognizable chimney sweep, donates his talent to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA produces a public service announcement distributed to 404 stations across the country in time for National Chimney Sweep Week.
A radio version of the Dick Van Dyke public service announcement is distributed to 5,000 radio stations.
NCSG hires technical director to assist members with technical issues and over see the educational programs for CSIA.
CSIA establishes toll-free number for consumers to reach a chimney safety message and have the opportunity to request lists of CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.
The American Gas Association seeks closer relationship with NCSG, citing the importance of annual inspections for gas appliance venting.
Guild representatives attend a National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies convention in Seattle to educate insurance professionals about the need for annual maintenance.
CSIA launches continuing education program, an alternative to retesting that encourages continued learning through seminars, conventions and other classes.
Chimney Check program jump starts media outreach efforts. Every NCSG member and CSIA Certified Sweep receives materials to help them to pursue media coverage. Many Guild members find success on the pages of their local papers.
Vermont becomes the first state to require CSIA certification. Sweeps in Vermont who want to work on anything other than an owner-occupied, single family home must earn CSIA certification.
NCSG and CSIA allocate funds for a World Wide Website. CSIA’s homepage, which provides the names and phone numbers of all certified sweeps, is visited by nearly 200 people per month. An NCSG site under development will offer similar access to lists of Guild members, plus timely updates and other members-only materials.
NCSG and CSIA revise Codes of Ethics, with so much public exposure; ethics play an even more important role in keeping customers happy with the services provided by Guild members and CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.
Millions of homeowners hear about the importance of annual maintenance in nearly 1,000 newspaper articles, dozens of articles in national magazines, and on several nationally televised radio and TV programs. The results? Nearly 4,000 requests for referrals in the past four months.
Guild members come together to celebrate 20 years of accomplishments and many successful decades ahead!
Don Leavitt of Don Leavitt Enterprises in California is awarded the first Don Leavitt Award.
NCSG and CSIA headquarters move to Indianapolis and fundraising begins to open Chimney & Venting Technology Center.
NCSG successfully appeals to NFPA 211 committee to incorporate Three Levels of Chimney Inspections into next revision.
Ground is broken for national headquarters.
Sweeping magazine changes name to Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney and Venting Technology. Condolences come from many European chimney sweep associations upon the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Grand opening of the CSIA Technology Center and the 25th anniversary of the National Chimney Sweep Guild.
CSIA implements trademark policy on January 1 requiring companies advertising with the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep trademark to have a Certified Chimney Sweep at each sweeping and/or inspection. Volunteers, led by Kevin DeLucenay, build the Twisted Chimney at the national headquarters.
Renee Brigman of Wakefield Brush and Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps in South Carolina is awarded the Guild’s first Friendship Award.
Michael Gerber, author of the bestseller The E-Myth, is chosen as the keynote speaker for the NCSG annual convention in Myrtle Beach.
NCSG and Security Group International announce industry-specific liability insurance availability and member discounts.
NCSG membership sees substantial growth and solid footing above the 1,000 member mark.
748 attendees meet at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT to celebrate NCSG's 30th Anniversary convention and tradeshow breaking records for attendance and number of exhibiting companies.
NCSG board adopts Standard of Practice for Supplier and Dual members to compliment the service membership’s Code of Ethics.
NCSG board voted unanimously to amend the CSIA bylaws to dissolve NCSG’s governance control of the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Previously, CSIA bylaws required NCSG approval of CSIA board members.
Guild membership approved a bylaws change allowing for shorter term limits for directors and fewer membership regions.
This timeline appeared in the May 2010 issue of Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney & Venting Technology.