The boss of a commercial kitchen cleaning specialist has urged caterers to take kitchen hygiene seriously following a recent blaze at an eatery in Dorset.
The Boathouse restaurant in Christchurch had to evacuate staff and customers earlier this month when a fire broke out in its first floor kitchen. Dorset Fire and Rescue Service blamed the incident on a ‘build-up of material in an extractor fan’
And now Gary Nicholls, managing director of cleaning firm Swiftclean, insists the blaze illustrates why restaurant owners need to regularly clean and remove grease, fat and oil deposits in kitchen extract ductwork.
He stresses that the dangers of not cleaning to legally prescribed standards are plentiful and serious. Not only can failure to remove grease deposits cause fire and land restaurateurs in serious trouble with the law, it can also render their insurance valid.
“It will be interesting to see whether the Boathouse is able to make a successful claim on its insurance,” says Nicholls. “If the fire service is suggesting this was caused by a build-up of material in an extractor fan so early in the investigations, we doubt that there will be a pay-out for damage or repairs. Not investing in adequate cleaning can be an extremely expensive mistake.”
Had anyone been harmed in the fire, the legal consequences could have been more severe, notes Nicholls.
He says that had a fatality been caused by a fire of this nature, it could have resulted in corporate manslaughter for the business. If gross negligence manslaughter is proved when individual officers of a company (directors or business owners) by their own grossly negligent behaviour cause death, the offence is punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.
“As it is, there is a very real chance of a hefty fine in this case if it is proved that there has been a breach of Fire and Safety Regulations, which unfortunately it appears that there must have been, however unwittingly on the part of the restaurateur,” concludes Nicholls.