by Ian Myers
Ethics Are A Puffy Cloud Without a Standard of Practice.
I talk a lot about there being a lack of standards when it comes to Solid Fuel Inspections (in Canada). Even home inspectors in Ontario, being regulated by the province have a written Standard of Practice – whereby, if they “inspect or evaluate” wood burning appliances they clearly outline what they have not inspected relating to the installation such as internal areas, chimney lining etc. They are clear it is not their expertise. They usually charge a small fee to tag the service onto their general building inspection. The
home owner gets what they pay for.
What Consumers do not know is that those that they would consider “Hearth Professionals” do not have even that less challenging Standard – a duty to report that
which has not been inspected. Unless an Inspector, Sweep or Installer declares in writing their Standard of Practice – they are devoid of one. Those that advertise that they are “Certified” should be questioned about the details of their practices. Some high profile members of our industry in Canada will point to the fact that wood burning Inspection, Installation and Maintenance are mostly unregulated to justify a lack of oversight or guidance that they give to their “Certified”members in the field.
I am dismayed by this attitude since possessing a Standard of Practice is distinctly different than being controlled by a Governmental branch. This is a flimsy excuse when those in the field see first hand the negative results of unscrupulous service providers who are given the title of “Certified”, no Standards attached.
What those in the industry will talk about is their “Code of Ethics”, nothing more, just that. The natural evolution of any industry representative organization should begin first with a Mission Statement. From that a Code of Ethics will take shape. The next natural step is the Standard of Practice.
In the hearth industry, when consumers have complaints about the services provided to them they should be able to voice their concerns and have them addressed. In the least the provider of the service should find correction from the process – should they be in error whereas the consumer is concerned.
This is in no way what could be called “Regulation” – simply, adherence to and promotion of the agreed upon Standard of Practice. A Code of Ethics alone does not suffice to protect consumers and promote growth and learning among them that wish to represent themselves as professional. What I am outlining here at minimum is the very movement and mechanism of professional conduct.
Any organization using the term “Certified” for it’s members is implying a high water mark of skills among it’s membership as well as a defined Standard of Practice. If practitioners cannot specify how they behave with respect to different system configurations or circumstances- such as Real Estate transactions requiring a Level 2 inspection, with logical reasons why this is so – then can they be called
professional? Having a Code of Ethics that states one must be professional with no defining terms is a deception.
CSIA is a fully evolved professional organization. Certified Sweeps are positively driven to professional development on all fronts. Interaction with consumers and business organization is just as important as technical knowledge in the field. The Standard of Practice for CSIA Certified Sweeps is the NFPA 211, 14-15 Standard For Chimney Maintenance and Inspection. The practitioner of the Standard and Consumer both are directed and protected by it’s dictates. Clearly and concisely the responsibilities of the service provider are spelled out in plain terms.
The willingness to engage in constant self improvement, skills development and prosperity is infectious within the culture of The Chimney Safety Institute of American & The National Chimney Sweep Guild. There simply is no comparable professional Chimney Organization(s) in North America.
Ethical behavior is a natural byproduct of having a step by step Standard of Practice Process that is as clear to Employers and Employees as it is to Consumers. If you are from the Canadian Hearth Industry involved in the Inspection and Maintenance of Solid Fuel Burning Appliances- you need to educate yourself on this topic. Visit: http://www.csia.org today for more information.
Ian Myers is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® and operates Myers Chimney in Minden, Ontario, Canada. He can be reached via his website at http://www.myerschimney.com.
The reviews presented here are not necessarily the views of the Chimney Safety Institute of America and are solely those of the author.