This week on the blog, we’re talking with one of the instructors at the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s National Chimney Sweep Training School, which provides important educational opportunities for chimney sweeps seeking to earn their CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential.

Instructor Rich Rua has been in the industry for 20 years with A Traditional Sweep in Portsmouth, RI.

CSIA: CSIA’s National Chimney Sweep Training School is an important resource for the industry; could you explain why or how?

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Rich Rua

Rich: This is the only recognized training school in our industry. Any others, regardless of what they’re trying to do or be, will be weighing their standards against what we’re doing here. This is the center point of our industry. I’d liken it to a cart going down the road. You’re either pulling the cart or taking a free ride on it, and I’m proud to say we’re pulling that cart.

CSIA: What’s the number one takeaway you want the training school students to walk away with when they return to their communities to serve homeowners?

Rich: I want them to understand that this is not the simple occupation that some people think this is. There is a lot of information that we need to pass on to these professionals to ensure that they are true chimney sweeps, not just some guy throwing a brush up a chimney.

CSIA: What should homeowners expect out of a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in terms of their knowledge?

Rich: You have many trades wrapped into one to be a true chimney sweep. For just a few examples, they’ll be competent in masonry work in order to complete repairs, and they’ll have carpentry experience as they need to understand how the chimney integrates into the infrastructure of the home. They’ll be trained in communications and customer service, because they have a crucial role in helping homeowners understand chimney safety and in putting them at ease about the process.

CSIA: On the topic of customer services, CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are required to act ethically, and that’s an important part of what the training school does.

Rich: Ethics is the cornerstone of what we do. Every CSIA Certified Sweep has to sign a code of ethics, and we police complaints that may come in. It is so important to maintaining the integrity of our work.

CSIA: What does a day at the Training School look like for those that can’t be here?

Rich: We think of everyday as an eye opener. Everyday we want to drive home the point that this is a specialty trade that requires a particular dedication to be successful. So we are teaching out of the textbook and getting their hands on the tools of the trade so they have both the knowledge and the experience to be successful in helping homeowners be safer in their homes.

CSIA: Why are you a CSIA Training School instructor?

Rich: This professional and industry have provided me a lot of benefits compared to other careers, and I’m giving back to an industry that’s done so much for me. I want to teach these men and women that there is much to be gained by pursuing an ethical positive career in chimney sweeping.