What does a chimney sweep do?
The rain is pelting outside and you're curled up in front of your fireplace listening to the wood crackle and watching the embers glow. Meanwhile, the soot continues to bank up and choke your fireplace. If ignored, this can lead to a dangerous fire hazard. You need a chimney sweep!
Jeffrey and his team of seven chimney sweeps take care of everything to do with fireplaces, including chimney construction, maintenance and repairs.
How did you become a chimney sweep?
For Jeffrey, his career came about in a bizarre way. He was in the surfing industry when inspiration for his business struck. What began as stonemasonry, with Jeffrey building fireplaces, just "kicked off". Jeffrey explains: "We branched out into repair work, which then branched out into maintenance and we now make chimney products. All from just purely sweeping chimneys."
What does a typical work day involve?
Being a chimney sweep is not a nine-to-five job for Jefferey. A normal day sees him working twelve hours, starting and finishing in the dark. And from May until October, he works an average of six and a half days a week.
Cleaning the chimneys isn't just a matter of sticking a broom down the opening on top of your roof. To clean them, drop sheets are placed inside the base of the fireplace and the opening is closed off, to ensure no dust comes down into the room. An industrial vacuum is used so that any dust that does fall to the base is sucked into that.
What are the pros and cons?
Even though a safety harness is worn, there's still a fair degree of danger involved. As such, the pay is pretty rewarding. However, it's imperative to have a clear head. As Jeffrey says, "We're doing such long hours, and the slightest mistake could mean you end up in a wheelchair." And, of course, it helps to be able to cope with heights!
Any tips for new players?
"I think one of the the most important things is to have good basic communication, because you're going into - on average - 12 homes a day. So dealing with the public is a pretty important skill," Jeffrey says. "We go from restaurants to hotels to the little old lady at the end of the street. You've got to have good human skills."
"In addition, some bricklaying or stonemasonry experience helps. But most importantly, you need to be super eager and really keen and dedicated to working long hours. You need to be an outdoors person - and if you can abseil, that's a big bonus!"
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).