Reports of the member states of ESCHFOE for 2020

Reports of the member states of ESCHFOE for 2020

Report from Belgium

From the point of view of Techlink the Corona Pandemic means a turning point for the Belgian guild because the chimney sweep sector has literally collapsed due to the protective measures taken. One of the reasons given for this is the ban on the profession at the beginning of the year. Apparently, the age of the chimney sweeps, who are interested in the organization and who until some time ago also provided advice and assistance, played an important role. Communication with the companies is limited due to a lack of digital equipment or knowledge. An increase in new businesses could not be recorded. In the area of development, the various federated units of Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia are working on the subject of “burning wood and pellets”. Other topics covered are the New Rule on Chimney Openings. Flanders plans to introduce legal measures. According to estimates, binding measures are only to be expected in a few years, if at all. Techlink is currently involved in the discussion as a representative of the chimney sweep sector.

Report from Germany

There are 7,983 chimney sweeps in Germany and this number has remained roughly constant over the years. A total of 8,708 people were employed as chimney sweeps. Due to the corona pandemic, public life in Germany was shut down in 2020. The chimney sweep trade was able to carry out the chimney sweep works in compliance with the applicable distance and hygiene rules. In contrast to other professions, the chimney sweep trade was fortunately not affected by company closings. Chimney sweep activities serve operational and fire safety, and the implementation of chimney sweep activities is also considered necessary in times of the pandemic.
The annual general meeting of the Federal Association of Chimney Sweeps with over 100 delegates was held digitally for the first time. Most of the other meetings and training sessions were also held online.

In 2020, the Federal Association of Chimney Sweeps concluded a new collective agreement on the promotion of vocational training in the chimney sweep trade. The vocational training compensation will increase significantly in 2021. At the end of 2020, a new federal collective agreement was concluded with the union, which will apply to the employed chimney sweeps until the end of 2022.

After the Building Energy Act came into force on November 1st, 2020, the sweeping and inspection regulations had to be adjusted accordingly. The Federal Association of Chimney Sweeps has made suggestions regarding the fees.

As a result of a change in the law, the Company Pension Act stipulates that employers who have promised their employees a company pension scheme through a pension fund, are required to register and make contributions to the pension protectionassociation. As this represents a disproportionately high cost and administrative effort for the chimney sweeps, the Federal Association of the Chimney Sweeps has advocated that chimney sweeps do not fall under the scope of this legal rule.

The association has established a new seal of approval “specialist company for the chimney sweep”. As an employers' association, we are the program owners of the seal of approval. Over 5,500 chimney sweep companies now take part in the seal of approval. The seal of approval is an important tool for maintaining and improving quality in the chimney sweep trade. This means a positive external image for the profession.

The Federal Environment Ministry has published a new draft bill on chimney heights. In the statement of the Federal Association of the Chimney Sweeps appropriate and proportionate changes are required, especially in existing buildings and in secluded locations.

The use of fossil fuels will decline sharply over the next few decades to mitigate the consequences of climate change. The chimney sweep trade must therefore acquire new professional tasks in the field of ventilation and energy consulting.

Report from Finland

Since January 2019, a working group organized by the Ministry of the Interior has been working on how the new rules for sweeping chimneys work in practice. The key question here is whether the owners make use of the chimney sweep. The focus is on the customer. The Finnish Parliament assumes that all information and experience on the opportunities for regulation in practice will be available to the Finnish Parliament by 2021 at the latest. In particular, the information and experience on how the changes to the regulation will affect the fire safety of buildings, the availability of chimney sweeping services, the quality of chimney sweeping services and prices. A big question is how customers can be sure that the chimney sweep they hire is qualified. Finland does not have a register of qualified chimney sweeps, but the working group is also working on this issue. The association has proposed to create a national database for swept buildings. There are 333 chimney sweeps in Finland. The AoCSoF has 290 companies and 193 employees as members. The total number of chimney sweeps is around 700, of which around 70% are members of the association.

The effects of the pandemic caused great economic damage to the chimney sweep in spring 2020. Most chimney sweeps were unemployed because customers stopped working. The association determined the situation of the chimney sweeps through a survey.

From the beginning of January 2019, the Association of Chimney Sweeps launched a new concept for all Association’s members. The aim of this concept is to provide a possibility for customers to find qualified chimney sweepers. The concept will be develloped continuously.

Report of Italy

In Italy, the number of establishments has remained constant, and the legal situation has not changed either. Italy is currently waiting for the publication of the 2 new UNI standards: UNI 10683 Installation of biomass systems (renewal) and UNI 10389-2 Flue gas and draft measurement on biomass systems (new). There is also to report that the province of Trento wants to create a chimney sweep directory and will create its own course for it. The reason for this is that the authorities have found out that the number of existing chimney sweeps is too small.

Report from Moldova

Activity report of the National Association of Employers National Association of Chimney Sweeps, Chimney Builders and Tiled Stove Builders ASFOCMD for the year 2020: There are 6 new member companies within the ASFOCMD association. The number of employees in the member companies of the ASFOCMD is 35. The current economic situation of the companies affiliated to the ASFOCMD remained stable compared to 2019. Legislative changes were not made, but the fire brigade within the General Inspection for Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Moldova (IGSU of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Moldova) also assesses the fire safety of chimneys and ventilation ducts, of heating and industrial systems without giving cleaning recommendations. The main task in 2020 was to organize meetings of the ASFOCMD association with the IGSU of the MIA of the Republic of Moldova in order to develop and promote for the first time a strategy in the field of fire and poisoning prevention in chimneys and ventilation ducts as well as fireplaces in heating and industrial plants: The inspection and cleaning of chimneys and ventilation ducts is carried out by certified professional chimney sweeps from specialized companies that are technically equipped with professional chimney devices, tools and systems. Another task was to promote these services through the media. If necessary, training courses, further education and certification of the specialists are carried out. According to a contract of the ASFOCMD association with the Technical University of Moldova, the SRL Hornar Training and Perfection Center Trainer started as chief expert in the training of stoves and chimney installers.

Report from Austria

At the turn of the year 2020, the activities of Patschokieren (lining with clay), Schliefen (climbing the chimney) and burning out the chimney were included by UNESCO in the world cultural heritage for ideal cultural assets that are particularly worthy of protection. In February 2020, new elections took place in the Chamber of Commerce, which are still not completed due to the pandemic. Furthermore, during the trade fair in Verona in February, Mr. Verderber gave a lecture on ESCHFOE and its work in the European field. An ESCHFOE working group meeting on the topic of chimney sweeping took place in February. In spring, the series of standards about accessories were completed as voluntary EN standards. A new standard about LAS systems was published in Austria in the summer. A new master’s examination regulations are about to be completed. The EN 303-5 standard "Solid fuel boilers up to 500 kW" is expected to be sent out for the second final vote in December. Otherwise everything is fine in Austria, but meetings are not possible due to the pandemic.

Report from Poland

Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich, the professional association of chimney sweeps in Poland, takes an active part in national and international conferences, fairs and meetings at the level of the central authorities. The association's representatives work in four technical committees of the Polish Committee for Standardization. The work to change the standard PN-89 / B-10425 “Smoke, exhaust and ventilation pipes. Requirements and tests for acceptance” have been completed. The text of the standard has been approved and published by the Polish Standardization Committee. The board of the Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich has started cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Technology in the implementation of the national program for air pollution control. The integrated support system for reducing low emissions (ZONE) was set up for this purpose. The aim of the project is to develop an electronic building inventory system. The system provides data on thermal insulation, the insulation method, and the emission of harmful substances from a building. This information is intended to support the public administration in making decisions to improve air quality. The association has also contacted the association “Dziennikarze dla Zdrowia” (health journalists) in matters of air pollution control. This association promotes environmentally friendly behaviour and contributes significantly to the health protection of society. The participation of chimney sweeps in activities to improve air quality was awarded the title “Clean Air Ambassador”. Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich representatives also took part in the Clean Air Congress, which deals with the problems of air pollution and how to prevent it. Chimney sweeps from Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich also regularly take part in conferences and events aimed at reducing emissions. The association is also represented on the board of the professional committee for chimney sweeps of the Polish Craft Association. Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich has once again co-organized the scientific and technical conference “Bezpieczne Ciepło”, whose participants include scientists, manufacturers of chimneys, heating devices, representatives of central and local authorities and chimney sweeps. Another important event was dedicated to the training of chimney sweeps in Poland, at which the future development of the profession was discussed. The association has also recognized the importance of renewable energies and is preparing for new fields of activity during training. Korporacja Kominiarzy Polskich is the leading association of chimney sweeps in Poland and is an important partner of the national and local authorities. A total of 190 chimney sweep companies with 435 master chimney sweeps are affiliated with the association. During the COVID-19 pandemic, chimney sweeps who saw a decline in sales were able to apply for grants or non-repayable loans to finance their ongoing operations. These grants came from both national funds and European Union funds to combat the COVID pandemic. The general situation in the chimney sweep industry has deteriorated significantly due to the COVID pandemic, leading into a decline in employment and less spending on chimney sweeping equipment and development. Regarding the legal provisions that may apply to chimney sweeps in the future, the General Office for Building Control is developing a system of a central emissions register for buildings. Chimney sweeps will also provide data for this register. At the same time as the central building emissions register was set up, the building law on the cleaning and inspection of chimneys was changed so that in future the logs can be electronically transferred to the register.

Report from Slovakia

The Chamber of Chimney Sweeps of Slovakia currently has 175 members, among them employers and employees with Chimney Sweep qualifications. The training of new chimney sweeps and the lifelong learning is continued by the Chamber of Chimney Sweeps as far as the current measures against pandemic permit. However, with a few exceptions the work can be carried out under strict hygiene requirements. The President of the Chimney Sweep Chamber, Mr. Miroslav Ledecký, is negotiating intensively with the Ministry of the Environment about the implementation of the role of chimney sweeps in air pollution control as one of the priorities of the state and the EU. Other legal regulations regarding chimneys and air pollution control are carried out by the chamber. There currently is no material change to the law expected that could adversely affect chimney sweeping. Within the Technical Commission for Chimneys, the members of the Chamber work on the translation and implementation of the applicable standards.

Report from the Czech Republic

The number of members in the Czech Republic is stable. The main reason for membership in the guild is the possibility of further training and the provision of information. The chimney sweeping work will continue without impairment, with safety and health measures being followed. It is recommended that the cleaning and inspection of the flue gas paths only be carried out when necessary, which is indicated individually depending on the level of health risk. There are regular seminars with a system of lifelong learning. Participants receive points for participating in the seminars. They are preferred on the SKČR * website based on the points scored. Interest is great despite of the fact that the activity is voluntary. The association received financial support for the "Lifelong Learning" project. Lifelong learning (costs for the lecturers, financial compensation for the participants) is covered for two years by the EU project "Regional employment and training project (successfully completed in 2020)". The legislation and chimney legislation has been stable since 2016. CSR is represented on the Board of Directors of the Czech Standardization Agency, an organization authorized by the State for the creation and dissemination of technical standards, and on the board of the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic. It is also represented in CEN TC 166 WG 1 and in other educational institutions.

Report from the USA

Because of the pandemic the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) convention in Orlando, Florida was cancelled and was replaced by an online-meeting instead. This gave the chimney sweeps a chance to acquire continuing education credits (CEU’s) toward their CSIA chimney sweep recertification. There have also been many online support meetings and training sessions by Zoom. In 2021 there will be no face-to-face meetings, just interactive online trainings and meetings. There are over 7,000 chimney sweep companies in America. Some of these are single man/women operators, and some are large companies with over 40 to 50 employees. The National Chimney Sweep Guild has over 1,000 of these companies as members. There are no chimney sweep unions in the United States. During the pandemic the chimney sweeps had to obey the infection protection for themselves and the customer care. Many customers were working at home. During this time, homeowners modernized their houses and made reparations. For the most part, chimney sweeps were very much concerned with sweeping and inspecting open chimneys that haven’t been used for years. Many sweep companies said they have enough sweep and repair jobs There is a shortage of trainees which may become a problem in future. The National Chimney Sweep Guild is currently engaged with the governmental department of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help formulation ways for sweeps to work safely on roofs without having to put anchor points in the roof for tying off safety harnesses. The new training system will include a start-up grant in 2021 to help NCSG members fund their children's college. The NCSG is revising its help for young professionals. The aim is to show that membership is profitable. The American chimney sweeps are facing increasing threats from local government and unions. Local communities are beginning to ban fossil fuels when building and renovating homes. Diversification is to be increased in the future. In the USA it is typical to see chimney sweep companies doing masonry repairs, relining, wood/pellet/gas installations, delinting dryer vents and even gutter cleaning. Some unions, like that of the plumbers, are trying to get legal restrictions on who can work on venting systems for gas or oil appliances or on gas pipes. Most plumbers are completely ignorant of ventilation systems but want to get all the jobs done they can. Some trade unions, like the plumbers are trying to enact laws on who can work on gas or oil appliances venting systems or running gas lines for fireplaces. Most plumbers have no idea about venting systems, but they want to grab all the work that they can. Some chimney sweeps have had to get special licenses to work on these systems or hire and pay a plumber watch them work. In some cases, these licenses have been simplified when the chimney sweep has been certified by the National Fireplace Institute (NFI) or CSIA.

In 2020, CSIA started to expand the educational and certification offer, which includes both new training materials and a practical training system. A first step was achieved with the new “Chimney and Venting Essentials” manual and the associated certification test. The CSIA has continued to improve its services so that CSIA certifications and training are economically viable. In 2019, a training system with 100 chimney defects was created. January 2021 the Gas Training, Factory Built Fireplace Change Out & Inspection, and Rope & Roof Access Training is ready for rollout. CSIA has completely restructured and upgraded the National Training School and converted it into the CSIA National Training Academy. This created a first-class academy for chimney technicians based on the new manual and the new test. About a dozen lessons have been updated and rewritten, including Chimney Physics now called Chimney Science. In addition, CSIA has invested in technology designed to support certification holders through face-to-face or virtual advice or training from technicians. Since safety is one of the basic values of the CSIA, the climbing helmet was set as the new "Top Hat" and various safety training courses were carried out by OSHA-certified instructors. The Chimney Success Institute of America was founded to work hand in hand with the Chimney Safety Institute of America. However, concentration on technical training meant that training to become successful employees or business owners was neglected. Operations management training will be offered through the CSIA Roadshow Business Symposium 2021 in the Midwest, Northeast and South. In addition, there are business classes on the CSIA SureFire e-learning platform. This platform has increased its range of e-learning courses by 25%. CSIA has created the new certification "Certified Chimney Specialist" as a bridge between CSIA "Certified Chimney Sweep" and "CSIA Master Sweep". By taking advanced courses in Chimney Science, theory and hands on practical training sweeps can earn this next level certification. CSIA builds a system with apprentice, journeyman and master level as in other trades. CSIA and NCSG joined forces in spring and summer to act as contact persons for chimney sweeps to support them in questions about the pandemic in Zoom webinars.