by Sally McKnight

When I consider Women’s History Month, it hits me like a ton of bricks.

I realize the work of those early pioneers opened doors and gave me the opportunity to be who I am today, which is great cause for celebration!

In a way, I hope that I am serving as a pioneer in my chosen profession, because I am proud to be a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.

As a child, I was raised to grow up, get married and have a family. Just in case that plan didn’t happen, my family enrolled me in Dickinson-Warren Secretarial School in Berkeley.

I did marry and stayed home to raise a family. When the kids were in school, I went to work in the office of my family’s manufacturing business, which was not very satisfying.  I worked with my mom, and everything had to be done her way. Suffocating is one descriptive word.

Eventually, the time came to spread my wings and fly away from the nest I created. In the turmoil and needing more money, I responded to an advertisement in a local newspaper for part-time office staff for The Irish Sweep.

The year was 1982, and despite my office role it was necessary for me to accompany my employer out in the field to learn about sweeping chimneys.

Those educational trips taught me all I’d need to know. I found such joy and satisfaction being out of a building, not behind a desk, moving around in my community and being of service.

I was a rare woman in the industry then, but chimneys, fireplaces, the thrill of education and my customer base became my passions.

Today, I now own and operate The Irish Sweep, spending five days a week in the field.

Why do I still do it, 30 years later?

I’m excited to return to blog again this Thursday to share that part of the story.


Guest Blogger Sally McKnight is the owner/operator of  The Irish Sweep in Alameda, CA. She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep with more than three decades of experience in the industry. You can learn more at