Gary Nicholls, chairman of the user group for the Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) Scheme.
Mr Nicholls, co-founder and managing director of duct cleaning and legionella risk exerts Swiftclean, is widely recognised as an industry expert in ventilation hygiene. He has served for many years as a member of the steering group which co-authored TR19 and TR19 Grease and their predecessors.
He commented: “The kitchen extract system cleaning industry has been completely unregulated and this has led to many operators performing a ‘that’ll do’ type service, which is simply not good enough to deal with the fire risks involved. The insurance industry, quite rightly, has been dissatisfied with the quality and extent of risk control in the sector – as have we.
“I am delighted, however, with BESCA’s VHE scheme initiative, which raises the bar of compliance with TR19 Grease and adds a welcome level of regulation. Now, any business that claims to work to the new TR19 Grease specification will have to ensure that their staff are suitably qualified, that they follow the specification’s requirements and that they report correctly.”
Mr Nicholls particularly welcomes post-clean certification by BESCA, which must clearly identify whether the clean performed was a full clean or a partial clean. If a clean was partial, the report must give clear reasons why. This closely mirrors Swiftclean’s own carefully developed methods of reporting.
He added: “The VHE scheme creates more visibility of the extent of cleaning and the access issues that need to be dealt with to control risk adequately. The auditing of VHE members’ reports will ensure that members are reporting as they should in line with TR19 Grease.
“The acid test, of course, will be the reduction of extraction system related fires and associated insurance claims. My view is that the VHE scheme will help to achieve this, which is why it has my full support, both as chairman and as a professional service provider.”
Often called as an expert witness in proceedings following serious fires involving kitchen extraction systems, Mr Nicholls and Swiftclean, as a whole, have long been advocates for establishing and maintaining the highest professional standards in the ductwork hygiene industry.