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GQA COLLABORATION MEANS CHIMNEY SWEEP SUCCESS – First Chimney Sweeps Gain Specialist Level 3 NVQ –

A three-way collaboration involving GQA Qualifications, the CITB and Chimney Skills Training has seen the first two chimney sweeps achieve GQA’s level 3 NVQ in Inspect and Design Chimneys and Dry Solid Fuel Installations. This is one of a suite of chimney occupation qualifications developed by the CITB, working with the industry with support from GQA Qualifications. Upon finalisation of the qualifications, GQA became the qualifications-awarding body, and made them available to its Approved Centres from the sector. Now, two chimney sweeps have succeeded in gaining the level 3 NVQ, and approximately five more are expected to follow suit in the next couple of months.

First in this accomplishment was Josh Firkins of H Firkins & Sons, a family-run London company that has been operating since 1860. Josh comments:

“I’m naturally delighted to be recognised as the first person to attain this Level 3. I was assessed seven times by Chimney Skills Training throughout the process. The rigorous appraisal included observational assessments, professional discussions, product evidence, inspection reports, and the checking of chimney design drawings and plans. A representative was sent along by both CITB’s National Specialist Accreditation Centre (NSAC) and GQA to monitor part of the assessment process. It is the first qualification of its kind, and it was the first time it was being assessed, so I had the full squad watching me!

“A large proportion of my work is inspections for party wall disputes, new homeowners and various installers for thorough pre-installation inspections, so it’s very relevant in my day-to-day job. More widely, I think the Level 3 will be a great benefit to the industry. It provides a distinction between those who simply sweep and service or install, and those who carry out thorough inspections and design work.”

Chris Geeves, Chimney Skills Training’s Director added:

“We had a very good experience working with GQA whilst developing the new Level 3 NVQ. In addition, the assessment activity done in tandem with GQA and the CITB’s National Specialist Accreditation Centre (NSAC) has proved to be a very positive collaboration.

“It is through the development of this type of qualification that chimney occupations can achieve the same level of accountability as other trades such as plumbing or electrical work. With many of the people that operate in this industry being self-employed, it is a great way for them to differentiate themselves from their competition. And with a good proportion of work coming from the commercial sector this is especially positive.”

GQA’s CEO Mick Clayton stated:

“It is always gratifying to see candidates succeed in achieving the qualifications we develop. But special congratulations must go to Josh for being the first in the country to achieve this level 3 NVQ. It is through the proper training and acquisition of qualifications that chimney occupations professionals can maintain and improve professional standards. This is not just good news for the operatives in question, but for the built environment in general, since raised standards in this area helps keep people safe. For homeowners and commercial organisations alike, it is invaluable in proving the competency of the chimney occupations professionals they utilise.”

GQA is growing its business in this niche area, and offers two further specialist NVQs including Level 2 NVQ in Sweeping, Servicing & Inspecting Flues and & Appliances; and Level 2 in Installing Chimney Flues & Solid Fuel Appliances.


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