While kitchen ducts may be out of sight, they should never be out of mind as grease build-up in extraction systems is one of the most common causes of fire in catering establishments.
About one-fourth of the fires per year in commercial properties are attributed to cooking and extraction systems. Businesses need to pay closer attention to maintaining their kitchen extraction systems, since claims arising from fires caused by poorly maintained kitchen extraction systems regularly cross insurers’ desks, and many of these fires could have been avoided with good risk management practices.
Too often, businesses don’t give enough consideration to cleaning their kitchen extraction systems effectively.
In many cases, grease deposits that have built up in extraction duct become ignited and cause rapid fire spread throughout the entire ducting system. As extraction ducts may often be routed through other parts of a building to reach either a roof, or are channelled to an external wall to extract fumes, we have seen some cases where the entire property has been consumed by widespread fire damage as a result.
The consequence of a fire occurring in the extraction ducting can be enormous, not only to the property, lives of occupants and fire fighters, but to a business’s bottom line. Business interruption costs are likely to have a significant impact, as an out-of-action kitchen is catastrophic to a catering establishment or licensed premises.
Businesses failing to pay adequate attention to cleaning their extraction systems could be doing so for a number of reasons. The usual suspects in this arena are ignorance and cost. Unfortunately, due to the current economic climate it is more often than not cost issues that prevent businesses from ensuring theirs is not only a legally run but safe establishment.
Many insurance policies contain specific conditions relating to regimes of kitchen extraction cleaning. If a fire occurs within the extraction system and can be shown to be associated with inadequate cleaning, it could jeopardise a claim for loss or damage.
In assessing risk, one has to consider fire hazards such as cooking equipment left unattended or not switched off after use, poor maintenance, or the absence of safety thermostats and shut-off devices in appliances. Flames, sparks and hot gases from other cooking can ignite combustible deposits inside extract ducts, which will quickly spread around the building.
Since its inception, EPSCO established stringent Standards & Practices for contractors engaged in kitchen exhaust cleaning, and regularly conducts a variety of educational and training programs to further improve the quality and workmanship of its members.
EPSCO provides its customers with the following:
- Company qualifications, including certifications
- Start and complete dates for the job
- Service report at the end of the job