The Importance of Cleaning Kitchen Extract Ventilation Systems

Kitchen extract ventilation systems that have accumulated layers of grease within its interior poses as a serious fire hazard in catering facilities. According to the B & ES in TR19 Guidance to good food practice, kitchen extract ventilation is defined as the “extract systems intended to collect and remove contaminants, heat and moisture from cooking appliances”. It is crucial that extract systems are regularly cleaned. Their purpose is to remove cooking odours, steam and greasy vapours from cooking appliances, which can then act as an ignition source.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, failure to minimize fire risk in the workplace by not carrying out regular professional cleaning regimes to remove grease deposits will result in possible manslaughter charges or corporate liability in the event of a death or personal injury taking place as a direct result. These charges will be brought against the responsible person of the premises (this could refer to the operator, employer or landlord etc.)

Flammable vapours are constantly given off during the cooking process. These cooking oils can reach temperatures of up to 300 degrees centigrade and it only takes one spark to ignite raging flames within the ductwork. Grease extract ductwork systems usually spread through the entire breadth of a building which means that in the event of a spontaneous fire, flames will spread throughout the entire premises, putting every occupant of the building in serious risk.

Imagine having years’ worth of grease gathered inside your catering facilities ductwork. Everyone within that building, including your employees and customers, are like sitting ducks.

Grease-laden deposits in extract ventilation systems are the biggest fire risk in a premises with operating kitchens and catering facilities. Grease deposits will inevitably seep through filters located in canopies which then gives the grease particles time to not only cool but settle on the internal surfaces of the kitchen ductwork. This collection of grease will also reduce ventilation efficiency which can lead to excessive humidity, over-heating, unwanted odours and an inability to successfully remove potentially toxic fumes found in gas-burning appliances.

So how can you ensure that your kitchen extraction ductwork is properly maintained to meet your fire safety obligations under the Regulatory Reform fire safety order 2005?

You NEED to have your kitchen extraction ductwork professionally cleaned by the EXPERTS to B&ES TR19 standards.

The frequency of kitchen extract ductwork cleaning depends heavily on the number of hours per day the kitchen is in use. Low use would be considered as 2-6 hours per day in which case, a yearly clean should be sufficient. Moderate use spans between 6-12 hours per day and this requires a professional cleaning service every six months. If the kitchen is deemed ‘heavy use’ this means that it is operational from 12-16 hours per day and is in need of an expert cleaning procedure every three months. These are minimum guidelines only and the requirements of individual kitchen ductworks may vary.