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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.