Kitchen ductwork fire wreaks havoc

A fire restricted to the kitchen extract ductwork at one of London’s most exclusive restaurants has underlined the potential dangers of FOG build-ups in commercial kitchen environments.

It took around 20 firefighters almost 12 hours to make Daphne’s in Chelsea safe after a fire broke out in the kitchen’s extract system earlier this week as staff were preparing for the lunchtime serving.

Fire crews used a cherry picker to try to control the blaze, while neighbouring streets in Chelsea and South Kensington were cordoned off. Daphne’s is a sister restaurant to The Ivy owned by entrepreneur Richard Caring.

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Incidentally, this year marks the 50th year that Daphne’s has been open. On its website it said that the restaurant remains “closed until further notice”.

Gary Nicholls, managing director of ductwork cleaning specialist Swiftclean, said the incident demonstrates the importance of regular fire safety extract ductwork cleaning.

“Even the finest cuisine generates deposits of fat, oil and grease in the extract ventilation system, and these must be removed on a regular basis,” he said. “Fire safety extract ductwork cleaning is essential in any commercial building with a busy kitchen and really should be top of the maintenance menu to prevent fires like this from happening.”

Nicholls said that since the fire was restricted to the ductwork, it would anticipate there being “some questions to be answered” about the schedule of fire safety extract ductwork cleaning by the individual responsible for the building.

“It is essential to have accurate documentation for this because if you cannot demonstrate that you have done everything you can to comply, you could find yourself facing an investigation or even criminal charges, particularly if the fire creates a lot of damage or there are fatalities,” he added.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Businesses should make sure their extraction system is kept clean as a build-up of fat and grease within the filters can lead to a fire.”

Kitchen extract ductwork needs to be fitted with access points at regular intervals to ensure that grease deposits can be monitored and removed effectively in accordance with Section 7 of TR/19, which is recognised as the leading guidance document for controlling fire risk in kitchen extract systems.

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