Countering Unseen Fire and Water Risks

Behind the scenes in a care setting, the safety and wellbeing of service users partly depends on expert cleaning of kitchen and laundry ductwork, as well as clean, safe water, ad Gary Nicholls, MD or duct cleaning and legionella risk experts Swiftclean, explains.

No matter how healthy your kitchen, kitchen extract ductwork must be regularly cleaned in order to remove the grease deposits that arise from cooking. People often think that this grease layer must be really thick in order to pose a fire risk. However the specification TR19® Grease, which governs kitchen extract hygiene, issued by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), requires for grease layer to be controlled within an average of 200 microns. This is about half the thickness of an average business card.

Anything more than this thin layer represents a significant fire risk. The only solution to this problem is a regular complete removal of the grease layer by specialist TR19® Grease cleaning.

A second, frequently overlooked, fire safety cleaning task is for removal of dust, fibre and lint from laundry extract ductwork. Tumble dryer fires are surprisingly frequent, especially in their extract ductwork. The drying process resulting a significant buildup of ductwork deposits which are highly flammable and should be regularly removed to eliminate the fire risk. Cleaning in accordance with TR19®, also issued by BESA, it’s the most effective way to remove these.

If you have a mechanical ventilation system, you will almost certainly have fire dampeners installed where the ductwork passes from a side room to a corridor, to reinstate the compartmentalisation provided by an internal fire resistant wall. Fire dampness comprise a set of steel louvres which normally remain open to allow the flow of air through the ventilation system, but which automatically close in the event of a fire to delay it spread.

These must be ‘dropped tested’ at least every twelve months, in accordance with BS: 9999, to ensure that they will close if needed. Any that fail must be repaired and re-tested.

Ductwork cleaning and fire dampness testing a specialist task and should be conducted by technicians with appropriate competence and training.

TR19® Grease contains advice that property manager should choose as a member of BESA’s Vent Hygiene Elite (VHE) scheme to provide these specialist services. VHE members like Swiftclean can also provide post clean certificate certification, which insurers are increasingly expecting to see, especially in the event of a fire, to demonstrate the property owners’ or managers’ compliance with the regulations.

Care must also be taken in ensuring that the water system is free from Legionella bacteria.

The elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions, are particularly vulnerable to Legionnaire’s Disease, the potentially fatal disease caused by Legionella. You are legally required to always have a current Legionella risk assessment, which must be updated if there are any changes at all to the water system, ownership of the property, or designated Responsible Person.

The water system must be managed in accordance with L8, the approved code of practice, issued by the HSE. If you need any assistance which with legionella control, you should choose a certified member of the legionella control Association to help you.

Visit for further information and advice.

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