A new chapter – The Federation of British Chimney Sweeps
Over the last year or so the main UK chimney sweep trade associations have engaged in discussions on industry governance, formal qualification and training. As you’d expect, the Guild were involved from the very start, working hard with colleagues from other associations to help get everyone round the table.
The discussions focussed on moving the professional sweeping industry forward and on 24th February the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps (FBCS). The Federation is an alliance of trade associations representing the majority of the professional chimney sweeping trade.
Guild chairman Lawson Wight said
“For the first time our industry has a united voice to speak on behalf of professional sweeps at a strategic, governance and training level. “ He added: “It’s been a difficult but a very important journey, a large group of competing organisations have come together for the greater good.”
The Federation is a point of contact for any organisations or group that needs to engage with the sweeping industry. It presents a unified voice to promote the trade to government and other industry stakeholders.
The Federation will act as a source and resource for policy and best practice to professional sweeps via their associations. The considerable collective resources of the member associations will be applied to all areas of common interest. Duplication of efforts will be reduced as the best aspects from each group are applied to the whole.
Steven Howard Guild Technical director said:
“It is commendable that so much of the sweeping industry has come together to bring about this major change. The Federation can address the changing political, environmental and economic landscape of the wider industry. We are grateful for the hard and sometimes difficult work by those involved.”
The Federation recognises the need to move the sweeping occupation toward formal trade status and further develop the role of the professional sweep. Formal trade status provides a secure platform for the professional industry, facilitating the expansion of the service, maintenance and inspection aspect of chimneys, flues, and appliances.
Phil Cleaver works with Chimney Skills Training who provide a pathway to the chimney sweeping NVQ qualification. Phil said:
“There’s a real desire and benefits for both the individual sweep and collective industry to professionalise. Sweeps are keen on the idea of qualification and gaining official trade status to expand their business and secure the future of their industry. As a founding member of the Federation we are looking forward to working closely with individual sweeps and member Associations.”
Professional sweeps and the wider solid fuel industry have been in the spotlight in recent times as the government focuses on air quality. Without an industry specific body, sweeps and their associations have struggled to bring their considerable resources, skills and knowledge to bear. The Federation recognises the unique position occupied by the chimney sweep. It now provides a point of contact and acts as a lobby group to safeguard the interests of the trade and the wider industries.
Lawson Wight concluded:
“As always, there’s a lot more happening than meets the eye. The Federation is busy formalising its status and creating the expert steering groups and committees that will serve it. These are exciting times for our industry as every step taken by the Federation breaks new ground. We are really looking forward to working with our colleagues to promote our proud and excellent industry.”