Catering Scotland

The Heat Is On: Why You Should Keep It Clean In the Kitchen

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The Heat Is On: Why You Should Keep It Clean In the Kitchen

October 21
20:07 2013
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Fire contingency plans represent a major aspect of a business’s health and safety policy, but what about the causes of fire in a commercial kitchen?

As leaders in the cleaning of kitchens, offices and commercial properties, FRKC has extensive experience of maintaining extraction systems, and holds contracts for several independent hotels and restaurants throughout Scotland. Managing Director, Frank Rooney, believes that some operators simply aren’t paying enough attention to the risks involved: ‘The majority of kitchen fires begin with cooking equipment,’ he says. ‘We recommend that kitchens of smaller hotels and restaurants are cleaned properly around once or twice a year, and we advise larger establishments to do so at least three or four times every 12 months. ‘The problem is that some people do not quite appreciate the seriousness of the risks involved. Over a short period of time, enough grease will accumulate to create a serious fire hazard, and the filters in the extraction systems simply cannot eliminate the volume of vaporised grease that today’s commercial kitchens generate. The residue builds up on the canopy plenum, duct and fan surfaces, and then ignites from the heat of cooking. ‘When fire takes hold in the exhaust system, the grease in the ducts then acts as a fuse, allowing it to spread rapidly to other areas of the building.’ According to Frank, regular maintenance and cleaning of any kitchen extraction system is one of the first lines of defense against such hazards: ‘When budgeting for the year, most establishments will factor in everyday cleaning costs but some do forget about or even ignore the deep-cleaning of their kitchen facilities on an annual basis. This is a big mistake, however. ‘Extraction cleaning is arguably as important a consideration as rent, rates, fuel – even the raw ingredients for your menu. It is absolutely vital for hotels to include deep-cleaning in their budgets.’ Accredited with the Heating and Ventilation Contractors’ Association (HVCA) and audited by them every three years, FRKC has the credibility and reputation to ensure quality workmanship at all times. The cleaning process of a typical extraction system takes between four and six hours and includes, if needed, the installation of an access panel which is cut into duct to enable effective viewing and cleaning. After the work is complete, the operator is provided with an official Certificate of Cleanliness together with a written and photographic report. This can then be used to demonstrate to insurers that the terms of the fire insurance policy are being met. ‘There aren’t many companies who are affiliated with the HVCA in Scotland, and insurance agents generally recommend using an approved member,’ adds Frank. ‘There is a realisation that properly maintained extraction systems are now required to reduce risk, offset liability and improve health and safety, and many insurance companies won’t even insure you if you can’t prove your kitchen’s ducts have been properly cleaned at least once a year.’ However, aside from the basic desire to avert damage to businesses through avoidable kitchen fires, Frank believes there is a far more critical incentive for operators to take control of their extraction cleaning schedules: ‘The Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 makes it much easier for prosecutors to secure convictions in the aftermath of building fires linked to poorly maintained ventilation,’ he explains. ‘It is the operator’s responsibility to evaluate the risks associated with the extraction systems, and to implement protective measures which will control any risks identified. If they fail to do this, they could be liable to prosecution in the event of a serious incident.’ So it’s clear that restaurants and hotel businesses should keep on top of the issue, and the only way to be sure that your establishment is complying with the legal requirements is to have your extraction system checked properly, at least once every six-to-twelve months. If you don’t, and something sinister happens, the bill for the eventual clean-up could be much, much higher. Visit www.frkitchencleaners.co.uk to find out more and to organise your FREE site inspection and quotation.

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Did you know that current regulations require a risk assessment of the grease-extraction systems above cooking appliances? Clogged ventilation shafts, ducts and fans can be a major hazard in a kitchen of any size, and ignoring it could cost lives. Catering in Scotland introduces FR Kitchen Cleaners…

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Catering Scotland

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