Most people are not aware that there is little to no regulation in the hearth retail industry, meaning that any person off the street can install, repair or clean your hearth appliance; be it an insert, stove or fireplace that burns natural gas, propane, pellets or wood. While there are several hearth-specific organizations that offer certifications and continuing education credits (CEUs), these are not mandated by the federal government, state government or manufacturers of hearth appliances. Some manufacturers will require factory training before a retailer is allowed to sell, install or service their products, but this is still not a mainstream practice.
At Custom Hearth, this is unacceptable. When we hear about our competitors in the Kitsap area offering “certified” installers or service technicians, we know that they are blowing smoke (see what I did there?). As noted by Jordan Whitt of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the word certification is essentially meaningless in the hearth industry without the proper credentials and organizations behind them. Jordan gives some great tips in that article about how the consumer can do research and find properly certified technicians before hiring a company to perform service or an inspection in their home.
We take the guess work out of that. In this article, you will find links to all of our affiliate organizations, why they are important and why we encourage continuing education through their certification courses. Custom Hearth, as a company, has taken the generally accepted, however abysmally low standards with which our field is regulated and established our own code of ethics and standards of practice that we hold all of our employees to.
We find that many hearth retailers who provide service consider it more of an afterthought, something they don’t really want to do but have to do. Our attitude is the complete opposite. We have created our own trade program standards for our field technicians. Essentially, we have created a specific chain of learning and given our technicians attainable but challenging goals to work towards. We have high expectations of our technicians including standards of service and continued education requirements. All new technicians are thoroughly trained and only after a fixed number of hours are they able to work on their own in the field.
After one year of continuous field work, the technician is required to begin studying for a National Fireplace Institute exam on the fuel of their choice. This is an intense, proctored exam that can take months to prepare for, resulting in expert knowledge of everything about that hearth system. Once the technician obtains all three fuel certifications, they are considered a Master Hearth Professional. There are only a handful of NFI certified people in Washington state and we are aiming to have all of our employees join those ranks.
Another certification our technicians are able to obtain is the Chimney Sweep Institute of America certification. This is a 6-day training course in Indiana where technicians get hands-on training on how to perform Level I and Level II inspections, sweep chimneys and the NFPA 211 code. Technicians who pass the course and exam are listed on the CSIA website here.
Factory training is also a requirement of our technician’s ongoing education. We send them to every training offered by the manufacturers we sell so they can get informed on the latest products and repair techniques.
At Custom Hearth, once the technician obtains all three fuels and their CSIA certifications, we consider them a Hearth Master, someone who’s education and experience is invaluable to us, and to you, the customer. No matter who we send to your home to install or service your hearth appliances, you can rest assured that not only are the definitely the best in this area, but some of the best in the entire hearth industry.