ESCHFOE-Congress 2022 in Poland
"Finally back in attendance" was one of the most frequently heard statements at the beginning of the event. After a two-year break, the member associations of the European association met in person for the first time in Opole, Poland. The Polish colleagues and the host association invested a lot of time and effort in the preparations so that the European congress of the chimney sweep trade could be held without a hitch. The event was actually supposed to take place two years ago, but had to be postponed due to the corona pandemic.
With the city of Opole, the Polish colleagues have chosen an ideal conference location. The city is easily accessible by car or plane, and so a total of twenty member associations came to the conference hotel with their delegates to take part in the ESCHFOE Congress. President Oswald Wilhelm opened the informative days of the event with a specialist exhibition. Trade fairs and exhibitions in particular give a good impression of the level of qualification of the respective chimney sweep trade, said Wilhelm at the opening of the trade fair.
At the beginning of the congress there was the Conference of Presidents. After the opening and the welcome, the Polish President Waldemar Drozdzol explained the course of the coming days and presented the Polish association with its various areas of responsibility. The regulations of the statutes were then worked through and the delegates' meeting prepared.
In the subsequent press conference, President Oswald Wilhelm presented the current status of the ESCHFOE association's work. During this conversation, the press inquired in particular about ESCHFOE's perspective on the topics of fire protection and environmental protection as well as energy supply security. It was learned that particulate matter and CO accidents are frequent public issues in Poland. Overall, interviews were recorded for both Polish television and several radio stations.
At 1:30 p.m. sharp, President Oswald Wilhelm was able to open the general meeting of ESCHFOE and warmly welcomed all members and guests. In addition to the member associations of ESCHFOE, a large group of participants from guest member USA also attended the general meeting.
President Wilhelm stated in his report that we are currently living in a very turbulent world. The energy turnaround, the war in Ukraine and the associated energy supply crisis also have a direct impact on the chimney sweep trade. From his point of view, the changes mentioned make it necessary to restructure the trade as a whole and to establish new professional tasks. These range from energy services to cleaning and testing ventilation systems to testing heat pumps. In this context, it is also important that the new topics are tackled without neglecting the classic topics such as fire protection and sweeping, measuring and testing fireplaces and chimneys. This is the only way to ensure the operational and fire protection safety of fire systems in the future.
Furthermore, it was learned that the search for good and qualified specialists has now flared up all over Europe. Training continues to play a crucial role in European associations. It is therefore important to build up and permanently ensure a minimum qualification for training in the European chimney sweep trade. This is the only way to ensure that the work carried out by European chimney sweeps is of consistently high quality and that customers are satisfied with the services provided.
In the greetings of the numerous guests, the importance of the chimney sweep trade in Poland became apparent. This has been repeatedly emphasized by the Polish representatives of the ministry, the city of Opole and the University of Wrocław.
Vice President Michael Verderber explained the questions raised about craftsmanship. The member associations of the ESCHFOE receive important information from the answers from the countries as to how the respective topics are handled in the individual countries. Standardization work also covers a large part of these topics.
Dr. Dieter Stehmeier used a PowerPoint presentation to present the current status of European standardization and gave an overview of the pending changes. Petteri Virranta's lecture on the subject of "ventilation testing and cleaning" also attracted a great deal of attention.
Colleague Virranta used his company to explain the work processes for ventilation systems from acquisition to invoicing. The participants became aware that there is great potential in this area and that colleagues should make much better use of this area of work.
As always, the reports from the individual countries were awaited with great interest. From these, one could learn which changes and special features are currently present in the member countries. For the first time, the new ZIV President also took part in the ESCHFOE conference and reported on the planned changes to the law in Germany. It was interesting that the topics of energy advice, ventilation and fire protection ran like a red thread through the reports of all countries and it became clear that their importance for the chimney sweep trade is constantly increasing. Finally, during an excursion to the main fire station, the participants were able to learn more about how the Polish professional fire brigade works. In addition, lectures were given on the topics of soot fires in chimneys and CO accidents, and it was shown how children in Poland are already informed about accident and fire protection and how they are also trained in them.
In addition to the regulations, the elections for the presidency were also pending at this congress. But there were no changes. The Honorary President of ZIV Oswald Wilhelm was re-elected President and colleagues Petteri Virranta and Michael Verderber were confirmed as Vice Presidents. Torsten Arndt was also re-elected Secretary General of ESCHFOE.
The venues for the forthcoming Technical Conference of the ESCHFOE in Austria and the next congress in the Czech Republic were then decided. The offer to hold the Technical Conference 2025 in the USA was then unanimously accepted.
After these important items on the agenda, it was finally time for the social part of the big meeting. Here, too, our colleagues and friends from Poland organized a great supporting program and took care of everything and everyone. Thank you very much for that. The entire event was a complete success and was enjoyed by all participants.