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Insurers call for improved ventilation safety

The need to improve standards of ventilation hygiene to reduce the risk of fires in catering establishments has been highlighted by property insurers.

The industry specification TR19 Grease, developed and managed by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA),  and its supporting Vent Hygiene Elite (VHE) Scheme have been designated as best practice by the RICSAuthority the body that carries out research on behalf of insurers to safeguard building occupants and reduce the risk of damage to properties.

Its latest guidance reminds property managers of the need to use verifiably competent ventilation hygiene contractors to maintain their kitchen extract systems to reduce the likelihood of fires starting and being spread by the build-up of flammable grease deposits in ductwork.

In ‘Recommendations for fire safety in catering establishments’ (RC68), produced in conjunction with the Fire Protection Association, the RISCAuthority sets out recommendations covering the installation, management, operation and maintenance of cooking appliances and related equipment in commercial catering kitchens.

It highlights the considerable dangers to life and property posed by grease deposits in extract ducting, which if ignited may spread fire rapidly to other parts of the building resulting in possible loss of life, considerable interruption to business operations and significant reputational damage.

Verified
RC68 also recommends regular maintenance and cleaning of grease extract systems to BESA’s TR19 specification by contractors whose competence has been verified by a third party.

“The only mechanism for ensuring compliance with TR19 is to employ a member of the VHE Scheme,” said BESA’s head of certification Duncan Sibbald. “The RISCAuthority guidance is a great step forward and the kind of recognition by insurers that the vent hygiene industry has been working hard to gain for many years.”

He explained that compliant maintenance of grease extract systems not only saved lives, but also gave catering and hospitality operators reassurance and protection for their businesses.

“The VHE Scheme delivers peace of mind that the work has been undertaken by a company that has been independently assessed and can provide evidence to demonstrate that its works are compliant,” added Sibbald.

He said BESA was stepping up dialogue with insurance companies, vent hygiene service providers, and the catering and hospitality sector to ensure widespread understanding of TR19 and the importance of employing VHE Approved Members.

“This will further boost adoption of the specification and demand for the rapidly growing VHE Scheme,” said Mr Sibbald.

For more information about the VHE Scheme go to: www.besca.org.uk/

15 January 2021

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