As the winter season heads our way we are ready to get the fires burning again. Here are some great steps to take and things to remember:
Starting That First Fire Of The Season? Is Smoke In Your Face?

Baileys Chimney, LLC. is a certified Chimney Sweep company. Call us today Santa Fe 505-988-2771 / Taos 575-770-7769

Green Building and Sustainable Development: January 30, 2017
“Kim interviews Justin Bailey, owner of Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning and Repair, northern New Mexico’s premier chimney service company and a proud member of SFAHBA. Look for Justin’s booth at the Santa Fe Home Show March 11/12 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.”

Listen to the podcast HERE

New Attendees:
By Justin Bailey

208 new folks attended the 2016 NCSG convention, according to NCSG Program Director Claire Rutledge. I decided to speak with a few of them. Two of them were Javen Martinez and Nicholas Graham, certified sweeps with my Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning & Repair in New Mexico. We got a photo of all three of us with NCSG President Jeremy Biswell, taken by the NCSG First Lady Biswell. Martinez and Graham really enjoyed Chris Prior’s seminar on masonry heaters, and CSIA Mark Stoner’s closing keynote inspired both of them. “I like meeting the other sweeps,” said Martinez. “Seeing all these people who are totally into it.”

During the trade show, I went looking for other first time attendees, and I found a couple of them. The first one I sat down with Chris Bevan, of Chimney Doctors in Bailey, CO. Chimney Doctors paid for his trip to the convention, along with four other members of the company. I was glad to meet someone from Colorado, because there are so few of us from west of the Mississippi who attend NCSG conferences. Bevan, 27, has long hair and some tattoos. He said he thought the conference was “pretty awesome.” “Everybody is trying to help out the other guy,” he said. “It is a brotherhood here.” He says he likes his chimney sweeping job “because I feel like I’m making a difference, helping people heat their home. My office is amazing, my view is hundreds of miles, I can’t complain about sweeping chimneys at all.”

After that, I spoke with David Steward, of Claremore, OK. Steward wears a Cowboy Hat. He works for a company called Chimney Man. He paid his own expenses to come to the convention. “The trade show has been amazing,” said Steward. “Its great to be able to come in and see all the products as opposed to just seeing the catalogs. The best part is meeting all the other sweeps. Network, learn, form relationships. And coming to Florida in February is never a bad idea.”

General Panel Discussion: Industry Technology Panel
by Justin Bailey

The Industry Technological Panel discussion at the 2016 National Chimney Sweeps Guild Convention in Orlando, FL featured several of the leading figures in the industry. As I sat down in my usual place in the front row and set up my computer to take notes, somebody asked me if the seat next to me was taken. I looked up and saw that it was CSIA President Mark Stoner. Sitting next to President Stoner turned out to be almost as entertaining as the panel discussion itself.

The first panelist to speak was Jim Pritchett, who began his presentation by saying, “My wife bought me a new toy.” Pritchett proceeded to to do a show and tell presentation, with his iphone wirelessly connected to the overhead projector. He was showing us the latest in 3D photographic technology, available online for under $400. “What I did last month was work on a lighting system,” said Pritchett, messing with his phone to change the images taken by his 3D camera on the giant screen behind him. He showed us a photo of something that looked like a cross between a UFO and an IED, with some LED light bulbs sticking out in different directions. “I have a picture of myself going through TSA with this,” he said. President Stoner, sitting next to me, immediately pulled up a couple of 360 degree cameras on on his ipad. They cost from $260 to $360. During a pause in the presentation, Stoner asked Pritchet, “What brand is it?” “Oh that’s top secret,” said Pritchett. “Show them what a flash cam is,” said CSIA Director of Education Ashley Elridge, standing next to Pritchet. “How many people know what a flash cam is?” Pritchett asked the crowd. I was too busy trying to keep up with what was going on with President Stoner’s ipad to to turn around and see how many people raised their hands. At one point there was a question about how to protect the camera when it was inside the chimney. Pritchard said that he had ordered something from Japan.

After a brief interlude, during which panelist Sally McKnight spoke about the possibility of using mushrooms to safely compost leftover creosote, Pritchett came back and showed footage of something that could prove to be a highly valuable tool for chimney sweeps: a thermal imaging camera that works with an iphone. “Its available at the Apple Store for $250,” said Elridge, as Pritchett showed images taken from his thermal imaging camera on the big screen. The pictures were highly psychedelic, colorful photos of various objects, including people. A murmur went through the crowd as several hundred chimney sweeps contemplated aloud the potential applications in our trade for this device.

Legendary Chimscan Chimney Interior Inspection System Inventor Tom Urban was the next panelist to speak. “I’m kind of a student of innovation, and for you younger guys, I’m innovations’s bitch,” he said. Urban spoke for a few minutes about the challenges of keeping up with the ever increasing rate of innovation, as an inventor and as a business owner who develops and manufactures highly technological chimney inspection systems. “We spent close to 100 thousand dollars having outside consultants helping us structure the business.” The next panelist was Kevin Binder, who talked about the possibilities of interfacing various apps, including google maps, to help a service business operate. He mentioned the usefulness of consumer safety apps, including one called RecallManager, which enables a user to find out if the product they are trying to service has been recalled. The next panelist was Rob Lindemann, who introduced himself as “owner of the largest chimney sweeping company on the planet.” He wore a cast on his hand, which was from a weightlifting injury, he said. Lindeman spoke about the exponentially increasing pace of technological innovation, known as Moore’s Law, and he went through several criteria he uses to decide which technology to adapt in his business. “The most important thing is to use technology that other people are using,” said Lindeman. “If you buy a piece of software and the people aren’t willing to implement it, it won’t work.” Lindemann said he prefers equipment that can be easily repaired and replaced. “I like stuff that’s readily available. You can go to Best Buy or Amazon and get something replaced. Easy to fix, easy to replace. Get something that’s tested and supported.” As far as apps go, Lindemann said, “I don’t think we’ve ever spent more than nine bucks for an app.”

The final presenter on the panel was chimney sweeping legend Jim Brewer. Brewer has been experimenting with the use of flying drones to help with chimney inspections. In his usual deadpan style, Brewer got the crowd laughing right away with his lists of things drones can do and can’t do, with regard to chimney work. Drones can’t carry materials, repair chimneys, or clean chimneys, he said. But drones can do some things, he said. They can crash, they can injure people or kill people, they can damage property, and they can interfere with aircraft, he continued. Drones can also give you
good, up close look at chimneys, crowns, and flashings, which can be practical for estimates and pre inspection that otherwise might require a bucket lift. But if you can put a ladder up to see what you need to see, Brewer said that’s probably the best way to go. Brewer said he spent over forty hours learning to fly his own drone before he felt comfortable putting one anywhere near a chimney. He also mentioned that when you program a drone to return home if the signal is lost, be careful where you are. Brewer said President Stoner was in his living room (President Stoner’s living room) when he programmed a drone, and so when the drone tried to come home it crashed into his roof trying to get inside. President Stoner laughed and nodded his head and laughed some more, agreeing with Brewer’s recommendation. The president did not deny the allegation of his drone SNAFU.

Eulogy for John Bordelon
By Justin Bailey
I met him at the NCSG convention in Columbus, Ohio in the year 2014. It was my first
chimney sweeps’ convention and I didn’t know anyone. I found myself sitting next to Mr. Bordelon
during the auction, 500 crazy chimney sweeps from all over the country, running around, wearing
costumes what
was the theme that year? Pirates? Polynesia? Puritans? I can’t remember. But I
remember Mr. Bordelon sat in a chair, his legs crossed, a gentle smile on his face. I think he could
tell I was feeling kind of lost. He had a drink in his hand, an easy smile, and we struck up a
The auctioneer was doing it up full blast, moving the mountain of of chimney parts, chimney
tools, equipment, memorabilia, a solid glass lifesized
full of cash floating around the room,
books in foreign languages on the history of chimney sweeps, artwork featuring chimney sweeps,
chimney sweep quilts, chimney sweep mugs to hold the 12packs
of chimney sweep beer, and of
course the official chimney sweep uniforms from Germany with the famous double row of brass
buttons down the front.
Mr. Bordelon watched the whole thing calmly and told me about the chimneys of Lafayette,
Louisiana, where he lived. It made me feel right at home.
So when he sat next to me in the back seat of a shuttle van two years later, I remembered
his white hair and beard, his smooth Louisiana accent. It was the Meirs shuttle that runs from the
Orlando airport to the Rosen Plaza Inn. It was late at night.
Within a minute or so, he was telling me a love story.
It was good to hear that story after the day I’d had, driving through a predawn
blizzard in New Mexico in four wheel drive to catch a flight, thankful for the snow tires, while the giant
flakes accumulated on the pavement so quickly you couldn’t see where the road was. And then
running through airports and riding on planes until nearly midnight. And now we were almost to our
destination, the 2016 NCSG conference in Orlando, Florida.
Bordelon said, as we rode in that van together, that he’d attended his first NCSG Conference
in 1988, in New Orleans, when he was 33.
Less than an hour after he’d arrived in New Orleans for that convention, he was waiting for a
streetcar on St. Charles Street, and he met a woman. He never told me her name. She had a
suitcase with wheels on it, he remembered. He didn’t know if he had ever seen that before wheels
on a suitcase.
When the streetcar came, Bordelon got on with her and sat down across from her and when
she got off, he did too. He went with her to the locked door of the hostel where she’d arranged to
stay for her vacation. The hostel was closed, but they found a way into a garden in a courtyard.
“There, I gave her a foot rub,” he said.
Later that night, at the opening night banquet for the NCSG convention in a restaurant, a
restaurant that rotated, spinning slowly around, “I was drinking with both hands,” he said.
“Meaning you had both hands on one drink?” I asked. “Or a drink in each hand?”
“A drink in each hand,” he said. “Because back then they had free drinks, and we were
getting ready to go hit the quarter, so I wanted to be ready.”
His voice smooth and quiet, like some fallen aristocrat in an Anne Rice novel. They were
together for the week of the convention, he said.
“Then we spent the seven most passionate weeks either of us had ever known at my place
in Lafayette. And then finally one morning we woke up and looked at each other and we said, ‘We
can’t do this.’”
So she went back to Orange county, where she was from, and “once or twice a decade ever
since,” they would meet up for a week or so, including the time when he was at the NCSG
convention in Reno.
“She joined me there, wearing a red dress,” he said. “Somehow the dress got torn in the
hotel room. So she shredded it into long strips, and I wore the lace bodice around my head. I put the
hurt on her so bad in Reno that she came with me to Denver afterwards.”
They enjoyed a road trip through the rocky mountains and parted ways again.
“And just last month,” he said “She came to see me for Mardi Gras and we were at my place
in Lafayette and I took that red lace bodice out and showed it to her.”
He’d saved it, after all those years. They went to New Orleans and spent a week in a hotel in
the French Quarter, where by some stroke of sweep’s luck they had a room with a balcony
overlooking Bourbon Street.
“And I haven’t been able to get her out of my head since the moment she went back home,”
said Bordelon, as the shuttle pulled up to our hotel.
“That was exactly the story I needed to hear tonight,” I told him. “Thank you!”
And ever since, I’ve thought John Bordelon epitomized the romantic soul and the passionate
heart, the zest for life and the tenderness that it seems all chimney sweeps should have.
Rest In Peace, John. I’ll miss seeing you at the conventions.

By Justin Bailey

One thing we strive for at Bailey’s is constant improvement.  That’s why I travelled to Richmond, Indiana to receive factory training in the Heat Shield chimney repair system.

Heat Shield is a nondestructive way to repair and reline chimneys from the inside out.

Heat Shield Factory

A company called Saver Systems has developed this amazing technology, and I am proud that Bailey’s is the only company in New Mexico that is authorized to utilize this solution to the problem of cracked, damaged flue tiles inside chimneys.

I got to know most of the top professionals in the industry at the Heat Shield Summit, and was able to exchange lots of useful information.

After four days in Richmond, I travelled to Chicago, where I spent three days with Lindemann Chimney Co, the number 1 chimney service company in the U.S.  The first day I spent in their offices and warehouse, and the the next day I rode around with one of their chimney sweeps in Chicago.

Exchanging best practices with the best in the business is a way that I can be sure that here at Bailey’s we are constantly improving.  Continued education and investments in knowledge is an important part of the mix for Bailey’s.

That’s one of the reasons why we are New Mexico’s premier chimney service company.