CSIA knows that our National Chimney Sweep Training School is in demand based on an indisputable metric: the classes sell out.

We actually enrolled 31 students in our April 14-19 class, the first of 2014, which is one more spot than we usually schedule. (We’ll have an extra instructor, because we like to have low teacher-to-sweep ratios.)

We also know that the 6-day school is popular and useful, because of the feedback forms that get returned to us.

One of our proudest affirmations — and this one was unsolicited — occurred today, when two graduates of the June 2013 NCSTS stopped by CSIA’s booth at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. The grads live reasonably close to the HBPA show, a popular event because of all the latest heating appliances on display as well as the numerous educational classes that are held, many chimney related.

The class that the two graduates – Jake Hotsenpiller and Jason Brown – were eager to share with us their experience with the school.

MORE: Visit Jake and Jason’s profiles on our zip-code finder on csia.org.

They work at HomCo Lumber & Hardware, a home improvement specialist in Arizona that sells beautiful fireplaces and wood stoves for customers who are looking for an efficient way to heat their homes without breaking the bank on monthly utility bills.

They offer a variety of wood, gas and pellet appliances, and even install and service your existing unit for you.

As their website explains, “Additionally, our team of chimney sweeps will clean and inspect your chimney with Chim Scan, a specially-designed camera that helps detect cracks that would otherwise go undetected. HomCo Lumber & Hardware is certified by the National Fireplace Institute to ensure the safety of your family and your home upon installation and use of any fireplace or stove.”


CSIA Treasurer Jim Bostaph with Jason Brown (center) and Jake Hotsenpiller.

We asked the two what would prompt them to make the 1,500-mile trek from Flagstaff, AZ, to Plainfield, IN, for the six-day course. Both said that they had done chimney inspections, albeit on a limited basis, and their company had also done it in the past and, in fact, had many tools of the chimney inspection trade.

But they talked to us about the difference between having the equipment and having equipment they could identify AND use expertly.

Our Training School is just that – a place to learn. In addition to classroom training, hands-on programs are also held each evening at the Technology Center over six days to provide an opportunity to practice using the tools of the trade and become familiar with different chimney systems.


MORE: Act fast! The April class is sold out, and there are just three more opportunities: June, August and September.

The two said they were both amazed at the complexity of what’s taught but also appreciative to have the new knowledge, and that it had helped them do their job better.

And if they are doing their jobs better, that means the customer is better serviced because they have an experienced person guiding them to safe enjoyment of their heating appliance.

Jake told me, “I had some uncertainty, but it made my job easier.”

And Jason agreed, telling me that the job of a chimney sweep was more than just getting the keys to a van and being told to go to a customer’s home to “get soot out of a fireplace.” Now he knows what he’s doing and can be of help.

Ashley Eldridge, CSIA’s director of education, said the fact that Jason and Jake came by CSIA’s booth to say “hi” reinforces an additional benefit that results from CSIA certification – the connections that are established, and reinforced, over time.

Those relationships can last throughout the sweeps’ career, and are enduring.