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A fresh look at ventilation maintenance

By | Ductwork Cleaning, Fire Dampers, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Air quality within social housing is an increasingly important issue; fire safety even more so.  Adequately cleaning and maintaining the ventilation system in multiple occupancy buildings is essential for legal compliance, and for ensuring the health and safety of the property, as Gary Nicholls, Managing Director of Swiftclean Building Services, explains.

 

Multiple occupancy poses a potential for fire to spread from home to home, yet although multiple occupancy housing has been with us for well over a century, it is only for just over a decade that we have had fire legislation for this type of housing, thanks to the passing of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which came into force in October 2006.

 

Within multiple occupancy buildings, much care has been given to ensuring that each dwelling is effectively a separate compartment, so that the risk of fire spreading from one to another is greatly reduced.  Sharing ventilation and extract ductwork for kitchens and bathrooms, however, means that a potential route for fire is re-introduced, leading from one apartment to another, or from the apartment to the building’s communal areas.  Communal ductwork represents a potential weakness in terms of the spread of fire and also a possible cause of widespread poor air quality.

 

In order to restore some of this compartmentation when needed, fire dampers can be installed in the ductwork at the point where ductwork passes through a fire resistance-rated wall.  These are essentially a set of steel louvres which remain open to allow free air flow under normal conditions, but which are triggered by sensors to close automatically in the event of fire.  The closed louvres form a barrier to the spread of flames and hot gases, this barrier helps to delay the spread of fire from its point of origin to other parts of the property.

 

Where fire dampers are fitted, they must be tested and cleaned on an annual basis in accordance with British Standard BS:9999 2017, using a method called drop testing, which confirms that the louvres close effectively.  It used to be the case that the frequency of testing depended on the construction of the fire damper, but the 2017 revision to BS:9999 made it mandatory for annual drop testing, cleaning and any necessary repairs for every type of fire damper.

 

Kitchen extract fire safety cleaning should also be a priority. It is an inevitable result of everyday cooking, that deposits of fat, oil and grease build up as a thin film of grease throughout the kitchen extract ductwork.  These deposits represent a very real fire risk and must be removed on a regular basis.  The frequency of cleaning is laid out in tables within TR/19, which is the leading guidance document for ventilation ductwork cleaning, issued by BESA (Building & Engineering Services Association.)  This also requires ductwork to be classified as high, medium or low.  Multiple occupancy shared kitchen extracts will carry a high classification, requiring regular thorough cleaning in accordance with TR/19.

 

In some multiple occupancy buildings, the ground floor is given to retail units; often fast food outlets.  In these units, kitchen extract fire safety cleaning must be completed regularly in compliance with TR/19, in order to reduce the risk of the spread of fire to the floors above.

 

In refurbishments, especially kitchen and bathroom replacement programmes, consideration should be given to updating the ventilation systems as well as the units and sanitary ware.  It should be remembered that a clogged or greasy extract fan will also consume more electricity to run than a clean one, so this should be included in energy saving plans.  Where a common warm air system serves the entire building, it should be replaced, where possible, by individual self-contained heating systems, so that common areas and dwellings do not share the same system.  Alternatively we can replace the original grills with fire rated valves which help to contain the spread of fire.

 

Bathroom ventilation systems often draw in dust, fibres and dirt particles which begin to clog the system.  This can make it less effective, allowing less air to circulate and causing unpleasant odours to circulate. Regular cleaning to TR/19 guidance is important to ensure a good indoor air quality.

 

Planned preventative maintenance is vital in multiple occupancy buildings.  Gaining access to dwellings in order to carry out this cleaning may be difficult, but should be a priority; it will be essential to communicate the importance of this regular maintenance to occupants so that access for cleaning is granted.  In every communal ventilation system regular cleaning, regular testing and cleaning is not only a legal requirement, but also a vital safeguard for residents and visitors.

Summer dining may mean more kitchen extract fires, warns Swiftclean

By | Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

Two kitchen extract fires in one Saturday in London demonstrate the risks of not regularly cleaning kitchen extract systems in accordance with TR/19, especially in warmer weather, says specialist building services provider, Swiftclean Building Services.  “We see this almost every year,” warns Swiftclean MD Gary Nicholls, commenting on fires on 15th July in Maiden lane, Covent Garden and Connaught Street in Bayswater, in which the extract systems of each restaurant were damaged from basement to first floor.  In both cases, a Fire Brigade statement put the blame on a greasy extract system.  Following the Connaught Street fire, a London Fire Brigade spokesperson said, “Restaurant and take-away owners should always take care to make sure their extraction systems are kept clean as a build-up of fat and grease within the filters can lead to a fire.”

 

Gary Nicholls agrees wholeheartedly. “Summer tourism and al fresco dining can mean that grease deposits accumulate more quickly, and the higher ambient temperature does mean that grease does not need to be heated as much in order to spread fire,” he explains.  “In fine weather, the capacity of a restaurant can be increased with outdoor seating to provide more covers; logically, that means more cooking and more grease deposited in the extraction system.  So, the frequency of TR/19 compliant cleaning may need to be increased in summer in comparison with the colder, quieter months.  Seasonal factors can make a big difference; for instance, increased business from the build up to Christmas and New Year can also mean a greater build-up of grease which needs to be removed more frequently.

 

“That’s why it is essential to use a professional fire safety kitchen extract cleaning provider, preferably a BESA member, that will help you to analyse your kitchen usage and devise a seasonally responsive, cost-effective, TR/19 compliant cleaning programme that will help you to stay legal and compliant and, most importantly, safer from the risk of fire, all year round.”

 

Swiftclean is an award-winning company which provides specialist TR/19 compliant cleaning for major multi-location restaurant companies, including outlets at airports and railway stations, as well as smaller restaurant groups and independent restaurants and pubs across the UK.  MD Gary Nicholls is often called as an expert witness in fire insurance legal cases and was also a co-author of the current and earlier versions of BESA’s TR/19 guidance document on ventilation ductwork hygiene, as a member of the TR/19 steering committee.  Swiftclean is a member of BESA (Building Engineering Services Association.)

Teamwork gets Glebe Primary girls fit for football

By | News, Swiftclean | No Comments

The year 5 and 6 girls football team at Glebe Primary School, Rayleigh, have their first matching team kit, thanks to Southend based company, Swiftclean Building Services who have purchased 12 sets of kit for the aspiring young team.  The girls also received some expert training from Swiftclean’s National Sales Manager, Guy Hadland, a former professional footballer for Aston Villa.

 

Michaela Hembling, Assistant Headteacher/KS1 Lead at the Glebe Primary School said, “We are really grateful to Swiftclean for providing the new kit and helping the girls to feel like a real team.  That was already a great gift on their part, but the added input in providing some training and mentoring was a real bonus.  The girls really appreciated Guy putting in the time to pass on some of his valuable experience.  They are now full of confidence and raring to show what they can do in their matches.”

 

Guy Hadland spent time helping the girls to hone their skills in passing and dribbling and in working together as a team.  He said, “Swiftclean sets great store by training and teamwork; they’re two of the things I’ve really been able to apply from my time in professional football.  The company is also keen to spot talent and draw it out.  Spending time with the girls and seeing them properly kitted out was enormous fun and very rewarding.  We’ll be cheering them on for the rest of the season!”

 

“Now that the girls both look and feel the part, we’re expecting them to do well and perform their very best for our school,” added Michaela Hembling.

Swiftclean supports Halton’s reputation for first class service

By | News, Swiftclean | No Comments

Halton Food Service is a global brand with operations in 43 countries worldwide.  A leading specialist in kitchen ventilation, Halton Food Service designs, manufactures, installs and commissions kitchen canopies, filtration systems and fire suppression systems.  As well as modifying and extending existing systems, the company provides full turnkey solutions from the early design stage to fully commissioned ready to use status.

In 2010, Halton Food Service launched a new service division from its base in Rochester, Kent, established and led by Operations and Service Director Bob Welham.  Since then, this service model has been rolled out to Halton’s other territories, the UK operation becoming the benchmark for service throughout Halton’s global operations.  The service division of Halton now accounts for some 20% of the company’s UK turnover.

In recent years, Swiftclean Building Services has become an invaluable support to Halton by providing expert kitchen extract and ductwork cleaning in compliance with TR/19, the leading guidance document on ductwork hygiene, issued by the Building & Engineering Services Association (BESA).

When Halton installs a kitchen extract system, it is perfectly clean, but the everyday use of the kitchen soon ensures that the system will need cleaning in accordance with TR/19 in order to reduce the fire risk from accumulated airborne fat, oil and grease particles produced by cooking.  Grease adheres to the inner surface of the extract ductwork and must be completely removed at regular intervals stipulated by TR/19.  Failure to do this can result in the property owner being liable to prosecution for negligence and it could compromise buildings insurance.

To provide this TR/19 compliance cleaning, Halton’s preferred supplier has for several years been Swiftclean.  “We are very happy to recommend Swiftclean to provide TR/19 cleaning,” says Bob Welham.  “We mention them as the ideal provider for ongoing compliance in quotes as we’ve established a good working relationship with Swiftclean over five years or so.   Partnering with Swiftclean allows us to offer a wider range of total services to prospective and existing clients and we’re always fully confident that we won’t be compromising on quality when we do,” he adds.

Like Swiftclean, Halton’s clients include single owner proprietor sites, as well as national customers with multiple sites.  They include fine dining restaurants and hotel chains, fast food outlets and leading sporting stadia in London and across the UK.

“it’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with a company whose drive for excellence matches our own,” says Swiftclean Sales & Marketing Director, Martin Hembling.  Both companies have more than a thousand customers of varying sizes, all of which expect and receive and exemplary, first class service.

Is your water legionella free?

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

It’s surprising how frequently we read press reports about sports premises suffering problems with their water systems. How certain are you that your water supply is clean, healthy, uncontaminated and legally compliant?

Are you clear on water?

You must have a safe, clean domestic water supply in order to safeguard your members, guests and employees. Your water tanks are one place you really don’t want a birdie.  They must be sound, clean and free from vermin and other pollutants, in order to ensure a clean water supply.  When did you last check or clean them?

Cold water tanks must also be adequately screened from sunlight and solar heat gain in order to prevent the formation of bacteria such as legionella. We clean, disinfect, restore and maintain water tanks so you can be confident that your domestic water is safe and healthy for everyone to use.

Avoid a Legionella outbreak

You must be equally confident that your piped water supply is clean and free from potentially deadly legionella bacteria. This means ensuring that your risk assessment is up to date and remedying any areas in the pipework where water can remain static and encourage the formation of legionella bacteria.

We are L8 approved and can provide testing for legionella as well as an accurate risk assessment. Within your domestic water supply to kitchens and washrooms, we can perform remedial work to remove pipework ‘dead-legs’ and rectify any areas where water is not flowing freely.

For ongoing compliance, we can provide basic training in monitoring for legionella, and ensure that you know how to flush the domestic water system through following periods when it hasn’t been used, in order to ensure a fresh, uncontaminated water supply.

Is my golf club protected?

By | Fire Dampers, Kitchen Extract Cleaning, News | No Comments

On the course, holes are vital – but in your fire prevention processes, they could be fatal. We’re sure you have all your visible fire prevention measures under control, but what about your less visible fire hazards?

Is your kitchen extract system an unseen fire hazard?

If your clubhouse has a restaurant and a commercial kitchen, it is essential to eliminate the potential fire risk caused by the accumulation of airborne, fat, oil and grease (FOG) on the inner surfaces of the kitchen extraction system. Once this FOG layer exceeds 200 microns (about half the thickness of a business card) it represents a significant fire hazard.  Any fire that takes hold here can spread fire to other parts of the building.

Regular cleaning in compliance with TR/19, the leading industry guidance document on ventilation hygiene, issued by the Building Engineering Services Association, is a vital legal requirement. If you are not TR/19 compliant, your buildings insurance could also be compromised and you could even be at risk of prosecution if you don’t have a regular TR/19 cleaning routine in place.  Our expert Kitchen Extract Fire Safety Cleaning service removes every trace of grease and provides full photographic documentation that demonstrates that your system is TR/19 compliant.

Fire damper testing

If you have a mechanical ventilation system and internal fire-resistant walls, you almost certainly will have a fire damper wherever the ventilation duct intersects a fire wall. This is a set of louvres which are normally open, to allow air circulation, but which, in a fire, can be triggered to close automatically; to delay and prevent the spread of fire through the ductwork to other parts of the building.

All fire dampers must be tested every twelve months, using a method called drop testing. We can provide a cost-effective programme of drop testing, along with cleaning and maintenance to ensure that, should the worst happen, your fire dampers will close as intended, buying valuable time to evacuate everyone to safety.  We’ll also document our work so you can demonstrate your compliance, safeguard your buildings insurance and avoid prosecution for negligence.

LABC sponsorship

By | LABC, News | No Comments

Swiftclean is delighted to be a main sponsor of the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2017. As a multi award-winning provider of fire, air and water hygiene services, Swiftclean knows the importance of continually striving for improvement and building toward excellence. This is why, as an industry leader, we are so happy to sponsor the regional and national LABC Building Excellence Awards 2017. Like Swiftclean, these awards are respected across different industry sectors and they recognise outstanding quality in all types of building projects, rewarding excellence in teamwork and service.

You can find more out about the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2017 in your region, the categories available; and how to enter on the LABC website. You can also follow @Swiftclean on Twitter and the awards, using the #labcawards hashtag. We are really looking forward to meeting the nominees and winners across the regions, as well as the national awards final in London.

See you there – but while you’re here, please take a few minutes to explore our website and find out more about our services.

If you need any more information, please feel free to give us a call on 0800 114 3751.

How fresh is the indoor air in your golf club?

By | Ductwork Cleaning, News | No Comments

Fresh air is one the main attractions of taking up golf but, once inside the clubhouse, how fresh is your indoor air? Not certain? The Swiftclean team will help get you up to scratch on maintaining the health of your ventilation systems, ensuring that time spent in the clubhouse isn’t undoing all the health benefits of playing.

Clean your ventilation ductwork

The cleanliness of your ventilation system is vital; removing steam, condensation and airborne impurities; and providing an invaluable constant source of fresh air for those relaxing off the course and working in your property.

Good quality indoor air quality is essential for the health and wellbeing of everyone, especially those working in or visiting your property regularly. After all, the only place you want anyone to be under par is on the course.

It is a legal requirement, for the sake of your guests, members and employees, to keep your ventilation system compliant with TR/19, the leading industry guidance document on ventilation hygiene, issued by the Building Engineering Services Association. This means regular cleaning at intervals set out in TR/19 guidelines.  If you don’t comply with the law in this area, you could also compromise your buildings insurance.

Legionella control – don’t ignore it

By | Legionella, News | No Comments

Legionella control is an area that many care home operators find difficult to manage, yet the elderly and those with underlying health problems are among the most susceptible to contracting Legionnaire’s disease, a pneumonia-like illness, with a potentially fatal outcome.

Legionella bacteria is found naturally in freshwater rivers, streams and lakes and can form in water tanks and pipework. You might think that in a busy care home water never becomes stagnant but this just isn’t so. If rooms are unoccupied or bathrooms unused for several days, either in the event of a death or because residents are on holiday or visiting family, there is potential for legionella to develop. We see outbreaks of it in hospitals and care homes all too frequently.

A legionella outbreak could have serious consequences for those in your care, but it means serious trouble for you too. If there’s an illness or fatality attributed to legionella, you could be liable to prosecution if you cannot prove that you have complied with your responsibilities. Not being aware of them will not be a defence in law. You could face prosecution; even for corporate manslaughter in the event of a fatality. If convicted in a Crown Court, you could be facing a prison sentence and/or a limitless fine, which could run into millions of pounds.

If your business depends on good water hygiene, you can’t afford not to speak to an expert.

All our compliance technicians are trained to L8, BSRIA and CIBSE guidelines, which are the recognised industry standards for legionella control. We can guide you through compliance by providing a full risk assessment and any remedial work needed to bring your premises up to standard. We provide on-going legionella control and leave you with comprehensive records to demonstrate that you’ve done all that is expected of you. We help you to comply, and we make sure you can prove that you’ve complied. One day, you may need to.

Contact us now.