This week on the blog, we are delighted to feature a guest article written by Rick Vlahos, Executive Director of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Education Foundation and the National Fireplace Institute. Rick visited us on Nov. 7, 2013, and sent this write up to his email subscribers. It was great to be mentioned by such wonderful organizations, which both recognize that if they are going to collaborate with any association, its the established leader in chimney sweep certification – the very best option, according to CSIA President John Pilger.

We are reprinting the letter — headlined “Green With Envy” — in its entirety: Image

(Left-to-right: Frances Kelly, Jack Goldman, Rick Vlahos and Ashley Eldridge).

By Rick Vlahos

Yep, that’s what I was thinking as we strolled through the CSIA Technology Center in Plainfield, Indiana. Wow, what a facility!

HPBA President Jack Goldman and I made the trip to Plainfield to meet Frances Kelly, the new Executive Director at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) & the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). We had a great discussion with Frances and Ashley Eldridge, the CSIA Director of Education. The four of us discussed ways we can work to support each other. But as I was driving away, all I could think about was what a fantastic training facility they have. We frequently receive calls from people that want to be trained so they can become NFI Certified. Did you know they offer NFI training over the course of several days that culminates with the NFI Exam? As we approach the 2014 training season I would like to do whatever I can to encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity.

So, you may ask: Has Rick gone off the deep end? Why on earth would he be promoting an organization that offers a different certification program? Here’s the answer:

Early in my tenure as Executive Director someone explained the difference between NFI and CSIA Certifications. NFI focuses on the planning and installation of factory-built hearth appliances. CSIA focuses on maintenance and of course, chimney care of factory-built and masonry fireplaces. Yes, both organizations overlap on troubleshooting techniques. With that distinction in mind, I don’t see us as competition. In my mind, the two organizations complement each other. As long as both organizations stay focused and strong, the general public’s need for properly installed and functioning hearth appliances is a lot better off. It is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that happens. As long as I am Executive Director, I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen. How about you??

Thanks for sharing the article, Rick!


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