If a fire occurs during cooking at home, usually it is confined to the pan, hob or surface, hopefully with the ability to control the flames before they are able to spread.
FACT: Of the 24,000 accidental fires that occur each year in commercial properties, around 25% are attributed to cooking and extraction systems.
However in a commercial kitchen environment, where the intensity of cooking is much greater and is mainly carried out beneath an extract canopy and ductwork, flames caused by a ‘flare up’ may easily reach the underside of the canopy and primary filters. The hood can be rapidly heated, along with the filters and ductwork beyond.
In addition a fire can also start within the ductwork itself, due to the high temperatures of the hot cooking gases entering a potentially grease laden system. The close proximity of combustible materials on worktops may also increase the risk and spread of a fire.
FACT: The Association of British Insurers indicate that pay-outs for fires caused by improperly maintained extractor ducts are at around £65million per year.
So, what are the legal obligations?
- Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires ventilation systems to be "cleaned as appropriate".
- Health & Safety Executive HSG202 'General Ventilation in the Workplace - Guidance for employers' describes general ventilation and fresh air requirements for ordinary workplaces. It states the legal requirements and specifically cites the HCVA (now BESA) and CIBSE as able to provide information on testing for likely contaminants in ductwork and on cleaning. It also states that if you run your finger along the opening of a duct and it collects dust, then it probably needs cleaning.
- Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, Regulation EC 852/2004 on the hygiene of food stuffs states "There must be suitable or efficient means of natural or mechanical ventilation. Mechanical airflow from a contaminated area to a clean area must be avoided. Ventilation systems must be so constructed as to enable filters and other parts requiring cleaning or replacement to be readily accessible."
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 defines the "responsible person." The "responsible person" means:
s.3(a) in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control.
s.9(1) refers to the risk assessment, "The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order."
ss.5(3) & 5(4) refers to duties under the Order, "Any duty imposed... on the responsible person in respect of premises shall also be imposed on every person who has, to any extent, control of those premises so far as the requirements relate to matters within his control.... Where a person has, by virtue of any contract or tenancy, an obligation of any extent in relation to - a. The maintenance or repair of any premises, including anything in or on the premises; b. the safety of any premises - that person is to be treated as being a person who has control of the premises to the extent that his obligation extends.
s.11(1) refers to fire safety arrangements, "The responsible person must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the size of his undertaking and the nature of its activities, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures."
- Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 apply to gas appliances found in most catering premises. Some gas appliances will be a type (known as type B) that require a flue to comply with the regulations - these include some combination ovens and deep fat fryers.
Where extraction (i.e. under a canopy) serves that purpose it is considered a flue and requires an appropriate interlocking system connecting the airflow to the gas supply.
An at-a-glance definition of responsible persons:
- Those involved in the provision, maintenance or management of fire safety arrangements at any level share liability for its usefulness and its operation when it's needed in fire
- Those with responsibility for specifying a system, materials; and/or appointing a cleaning or maintenance contractor, are also responsible for ensuring that they are competent to undertake the work.
- It's no longer simply a duty of care or voluntary - it's a legal obligation
Vent will support you in your legal responsibilty.
At Vent, our mission is to support you in your legal obligation with a grease control system that helps to ensure your entire kitchen extraction system - including the canopy, filters, fan, ductwork, risers etc - is kept continually clean, 365 days a year, in order to meet legal requirements. For more information on how we can optimise your current grease control program, without the need for costly professional duct cleans, please contact us.