A retained firefighter from County Durham has launched a new business to meet growing demand for traditional chimney sweeps.
Simon Wilkinson, of Sedgefield, has founded the Complete Sweep and offers a full range of services for the increasing number of people who use open fires, multi-fuel or wood-burning stoves, Rayburns, Agas and other forms of heating or cooking that involve a flue.
Wilkinson’s interest in chimney sweeping began when he bought a multi-fuel stove five years ago and had cause to employ a sweep himself.
Over the following years, he started building up his knowledge of the profession, undertaking work experience in his spare time and learning the skills of the trade.
When he felt he was ready, Wilkinson undertook assessment by the Guild of Master Sweeps, passed his exams and was accepted as a member of the organisation.
The Complete Sweep delivers the full range of traditional sweep services, along with nest and blockage removal, refitting of chimney pots and gas terminals, and the supply and fit of cages, caps and cowls.
Wilkinson also offers a camera inspection of chimneys, along with smoke testing and stove maintenance.
He said: “My promise with the Complete Sweep is to combine the best aspects of a traditional sweep service with contemporary knowledge about all aspects of flue and stove maintenance, and modern technology, when appropriate.
“My position as a retained firefighter in Sedgefield means that I can offer my customers credible fire safety advice when they place me in a position of trust and invite me into their home.
“It has taken a while to get all of the pieces in place, but I now have a fully equipped sweep van, full public liability insurance and am able to completely focus on the job.
“The timing is good - with the autumn and winter approaching, the demand for qualified sweeps is increasing.
“It is very important that anyone who has a chimney or flue has it swept or serviced regularly and I am now able to offer the full package.”
Although currently a sole trader, Wilkinson hopes that the Complete Sweep can employ more people and put a second van on the road in the future.