Thursday, 20 February 2014

Industrial Kitchen Cleaning – Ventilation Cleaners – How Regular Duct Work Cleaning Can Help Prevent Restaurant Fires

Regular Industrial Kitchen Cleaning – A Vital Way to Minimise the Risk of a Restaurant Fire 

Regular industrial kitchen cleaning is vital - that’s the message from Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service after a blaze ripped through a popular Ipswich town centre restaurant.

Eight fire crews tackled the fire which broke out in the kitchen of at the Townhouse Restaurant in Orwell Place on the morning of January 8.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze, but a spokesman for the fire service said it had caused ‘substantial’ damage to the venue.

The cause of the fire was accidental and it had started in the mesh filter of the extraction system, prompting a warning from the investigating fire officer for restaurant owners to regularly maintain their kitchen ductwork.

Officer Chris Gibbs, of Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, who carried out the investigation into the blaze, said: “Fires in extraction systems are not uncommon. Kitchen extraction systems naturally become contaminated with combustible materials as they remove grease and other products from the kitchen during cooking; these build up over time within the filters and duct work. 

“The filters and ducting should be cleaned regularly to help prevent this and to remove combustible materials.”

He emphasised, however, that regular industrial kitchen cleaning regimes were in place at the Townhouse, and added that he was unsure whether there was a standard to which this should be done.

The blaze, in the kitchen extraction system, ripped through the entire ducting, breaking out at the joins, before spreading to the fabric of the building, causing damage to the first floor and roof.

To help prevent future restaurant fires, Officer Gibbs warned of the importance of industrial kitchen cleaning, saying the risk of fire within a property is increased if duct work is not maintained:

“Fire can spread quickly and unseen throughout an extraction system,” he said. ”It is likely to intensify and may not be seen until it breaks through. Regular cleaning of all parts of the system should reduce the risk of fire starting or spreading.”

He said there are various steps that all businesses should take to minimise the risk of fire. 

This includes completing a fire risk assessment which should take into account the sources of ignition, combustible materials present, and measures to lessen the risk of a blaze in the property.

The kitchen extract system and its ducting should be included in the risk assessment, and any fire prevention measures such as means to isolate the system and installing fixed fire fighting systems within it, to help put out the fire. Or, if it is safe to tackle the fire, the use of portable fire fighting equipment.

Businesses should also have an evacuation plan to ensure the safe exit of staff and customers.

Officer Gibbs said: “In the event of a fire, the best and safest advice is to isolate any apparatus if possible, raise the alarm, evacuate the building and call the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Businesses take time to recover from fire due to the potential delays with insurance payments, staff retention and possible loss of customer base, as well as the time it takes to replace damaged buildings and equipment.

Officer Gibbs added that the best way to ensure business continuity is to prevent a fire from happening in the first place.

Two chefs from the Townhouse raised the alarm at the first sign of smoke, and there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire.

Diversions were in place so fire fighters could tackle the blaze and investigate the cause of the fire.
Duct work cleaning must be carried out every two years by law, although Ingot Services advised that the busiest kitchens should have a more regular cleaning regime. 

Organising industrial kitchen cleaning, including regular commercial ductwork cleaning is one way to prevent kitchen fires. For complete peace of mind and a free of charge quotation, call us today on 0800 731 7892.

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