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BESA unveils ventilation hygiene fire safety programme

The organisation’s accredited certification body will manage a new competency programme and database seeking to audit the work of ventilation specialists amidst fears of a ‘cowboy’ element

Industry body BESA is seeking to play up the importance to good building safety of ensuring ventilation hygiene and effective ongoing maintenance with a new competence scheme for specialists.

The organisation’s accredited certification body BESCA has launched a ‘Ventilation Hygiene Elite’ (VHE) programme to address what it says has been growing demand for more robust services to verify cleaning in commercial kitchen ventilation systems for purposes such as grease extraction.

BESA said in a statement, “The vent hygiene market is booming. However, this has attracted some non-specialist hygiene providers who do not necessarily understand their responsibilities; or the importance of delivering clean systems, good advice and proper post-clean reporting to clients.”

The VHE programme has been devised to address the concerns by building on BESA’s existing TR19 specification guide. BESCA will oversee and audit work to ensure any specialist is performing to the standards that will be reflected in a managed database that brings together reports on post-clean ventilation.

This data will serve as an auditable trail of VHE members and their work that can also be accessed by clients and insurers.

BESCA said that it will provide ongoing surveillance of registered groups and specialists to ensure long-term compliance and a schedule for when future cleaning must be carried out on a system.

Part of the new focus will be to provide a Quality Mark for members that can meet the criteria, while also ensuring they are included on a BESCA Vent Hygiene Register.

Rachel Davidson, director of certification with BESA, said that ventilation hygiene was a vital issue that had strategic importance for the building services sector.

She said, “The market is already experiencing healthy growth as a result of increased awareness among building owners of the crucial health and safety role played by specialist firms.”

“However, we also have to guard against the inevitable ‘cowboy’ element, who seek to undercut bona fide firms and fail to invest in the training and equipment needed to provide a professional and, therefore, safe service. The VHE scheme will become an important tool in helping clients (and their insurers) select fully compliant firms and verify their systems are fully and professionally cleaned.”

BESCA’s announcement of the vent hygiene focus follows a recent fire that gutted a restaurant in East London as well as flats above it, which was found to have spread through the property’s ventilation system.

The accreditation body cited a statement on the blaze from the London Fire Brigade that warned of the need for restaurant and take-away eateries to ensure extraction systems are cleaned effectively and continually to limit a build-up of fat and grease within the filters that can lead to fires spreading.

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