A fire at an East London restaurant over the weekend appears to have spread throughout the building via its ductwork and extract ventilation system.
The restaurant’s ground floor, a flat above the premises and the building’s roof were all damaged in the blaze.
The fire highlights the need to properly maintain and clean ductwork, according to Gary Nicholls, managing director of Swiftclean Environmental, and suggests that the UK should consider regulations that demand better care of the systems.
It is estimated that 25% of commercial kitchen fires are made significantly worse due to grease build up in ductwork, the company says.
“Ensuring that oil and fat deposits are removed from your ductwork system isn’t just a matter of health and cleanliness. As this incident shows, build-ups of grease are a real fire hazard that can seriously impact your business and damage your premises. Failure to provide effective cleaning can also invalidate your insurance and leave you open to prosecution, quite apart from posing a risk of injury to staff and patrons,” he said.
Nicholls says it is time that regulations governing the cleaning and maintenance of ductwork are tightened in the UK.
“We see incidents of this kind far too often on the London Fire Brigade website, and I am amazed that there has not yet been a death reported as a result of such a fire. When this happened in Boston, US, a law was passed regarding kitchen extract cleaning and it’s high time that something similar was adopted in the UK. Do we have to wait for a death following a kitchen extract fire to see stricter enforcement of both health and safety compliance and, critically, contractor competence in kitchen extract system fire safety cleaning?” Nicholls asked.