Swiftclean MD named chairman of ventilation hygiene scheme user group

Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean, Managing Director crop
Swiftclean MD Gary Nicholls was a key influencer on the drafting of TR19 Grease specification.

Gary Nicholls has been invited to take up the position of chairman of the user group for the Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) Scheme, which is run under the auspices of BESCA (Building Engineering Services Competence Assessment), a BESA company.

Nicholls, co-founder and MD of duct cleaning and legionella risk specialist Swiftclean, is recognised as an industry expert in ventilation hygiene. He has served for many years as a member of the steering group which co-authored the TR19 and TR19 Grease specifications 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.

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“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.”

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 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.”

Tags : appointmentbesachairmanextractionpeopleswiftcleanventilationventilation cleaning
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls


  1. I feel that there needs to be a response to this article.
    Firstly in regards to the comments that Mr Nicholls has made with regards to the industry being unregulated. This is partially true, there is no measure of policing to the ductwork cleaning industry specifically to the fire safety aspect of the cleaning work itself. However it is the governing accreditation body BESA that allows this to happen. Education of the end user does not exist, Insurance companies are only just getting the message and cowboys in the industry are still highly prevalent.
    The new scheme exists only to standardise the reporting procedure (For a price). Keep in mind that accredited members of the BESA should currently be audited on their reporting structure anyway, this only really serves as a cash generating enterprise.
    Swiftclean is one of the fore runners of our industry and Mr Nicholls has fought for a long time to set an industry standard, which we are all proud to work to and follow in creating great service. However I find it hard to believe in any new “scheme” benefitting the industry when you boil down to who really benefits. For example Swiftclean HQ is a training centre for the BESA training courses. As is the company currently owned by BESA’s very own Chairman. Surely a trade body should be headed up by independent personnel, who are only tasked with the creation of an industry that is at the top of its game as opposed to how much money its leaders can make within their own businesses. The Equivalent would be the PM issuing a new PM tax so he can buy himself a new jet!
    I feel that if the BESA focussed more on doing what they set out to do 13 years ago when we started in the industry and got on and educated the end user as to what a full clean would look like as well as full audits and unannounced surveying exercises the industry could eliminate some of the cowboys / one man bands that both work in a shoddy manor and also unsafely more often than not.
    As an additional point I ask who decides whether or not a Supervisor / operative is “Suitably Qualified”? Some of our staff have 20 years of experience in this industry but no shiny certificate to say that. Do they need to pay to go on a Hasman or Swiftclean course to become qualified to clean ducting?

  2. I totally agree with the users comments as above.

    This is NOT an independent auditing organisation. BESCA is owned by BESA. A greater level of compliance is great, but this is just a money making scheme driven by the industry, for the industry.

    If audits are to take place it should be done by a totally independent organisation, with zero connections to the industry, and no connection to a cleaning company.

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