Six professional-grade carbon monoxide detectors were the first purchases made by the Chimney Safety Institute of America from a newly created fund established in the memory of longtime chimney sweep Steve Blackburn.
The CO detectors were immediately put into use by students attending the National Chimney Sweep Training School field day held Friday, March 27.
“Because we teach chimney sweeps and chimney sweep trainees about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Having these available changes the game for us,” said Ashley Eldridge, CSIA Director of Education. “CO detection is a service that chimney sweeps can provide in the field to customers and if they weren’t already doing this for customers, it’s going to be a great add-on service.”
The purchase came just six weeks after the Blackburn Memorial Fund was established with a $5,000 donation from Blackburns Chimney Services President Debbie Wiedwald.
“The National Chimney Sweep Guild and the CSIA are extremely important to our company, and this memorial was a way for Steve’s legacy to live on,” said Wiedwald, Steve’s widow. “It’s a way to help the industry and make it better. That they have the right equipment is a good thing.”
Steve Blackburn, a longtime CSIA certified sweep who passed away in a plane crash in July 2011 on the way to a Chimney Sweep MIX meeting.
Blackburn, who obtained his CCS credential from 1990 and kept it until his death, loved using tools and equipment, and was known to often modify a purchased product to make it easier for his employees to use in the field. “You know the adage, work smarter not harder?” said Jim McKee, Blackburn employee and CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep since 1991. “Steve just enjoyed making stuff. He was innovative and creating ways to make the job easier. He was always happy about doing well and learn new things and new safety items for all the sweeps.”
In talking about the new CSIA tool fund, Bill Blackburn, Steve’s older brother, added: “I hope it lasts forever.”
CSIA President Mark A. Stoner announced the Blackburn Memorial during the NCSG Convention annual banquet in Lancaster, PA. At the same time, Stoner also presented Wiedwald with a special president’s award, “The Unsung Hero,” for continuing Blackburns Chimney Services.
It was because of her leadership, tenacity, and determination that the company had the financial footing to prosper and to create the memorial. CSIA thanks the Blackburn employees and family.