A fire broke out in Daphne's restaurant in Chelsea taking fire fighters almost twelve hours to control. This kind of fire is common in restaurants, as uncontrolled build ups of grease clog the ducts, creating a serious fire hazards.
A fire restricted to the kitchen extract ductwork of Daphne's, one of London's most exclusive restaurants, demonstrates the importance of regular Fire Safety Extract Ductwork Cleaning, says Gary Nicholls, managing director of Swiftclean, one of the UK's leading providers of expert ductwork cleaning services. "Even the finest cuisine generates deposits of fat, oil and grease in the extract ventilation system, and these must be removed on a regular basis," warns Nicholls. "Fire Safety Extract Ductwork Cleaning is essential in any commercial building with a busy kitchen and really should be top of the maintenance menu to prevent fires like this from happening."
As kitchen staff were preparing for the lunchtime serving on Tuesday 25th February, a fire broke out in the kitchen's extract system just before 11am. Around 20 firefighters were required to tackle the blaze which was confined to the ductwork and which took almost twelve hours to bring under control. Daphne's, a sister restaurant to The Ivy, is located in Chelsea. Fire crews used a cherry picker to try to control it, while neighbouring streets in Chelsea and South Kensington were cordoned off.
"Since the fire in this case was restricted to the ductwork, we would anticipate there being some questions to be answered by the Responsible Person for the building about its schedule of Fire Safety Extract Ductwork Cleaning," says Nicholls. "It is essential to have accurate documentation for this because if you cannot demonstrate that you have done everything you can to comply, you could find yourself facing an investigation or even criminal charges, particularly if the fire creates a lot of damage or there are fatalities."
Station Manager Dan Hallissey, who was at the scene said, "Access to the fire was difficult but crews worked hard to get the fire under control as quickly as possible." A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said, "Businesses should make sure their extraction system is kept clean as a build-up of fat and grease within the filters can lead to a fire."
"It is because of the difficulty of accessing kitchen extract ductwork that using a specialist is essential", says Nicholls. Kitchen extract ductwork needs to be fitted with access points at regular intervals to ensure that grease deposits can be monitored and removed effectively in accordance with Section 7 of TR/19, which is recognised as the leading guidance document for controlling fire risk in kitchen extract systems. If access points are not present, Swiftclean can install them retrospectively to bring the building up to a compliant standard. Swiftclean Compliance Technicians not only carry out expert fire safety extract cleaning, they also provide documentation of the cleaning carried out, with before and after service photographs inside the ducting in compliance with TR/19.
The company has recently launched a new 'Make Hidden Grease Visible' campaign in order to raise awareness of the issue of grease deposit build up in unseen areas within ductwork and hopes to see a reduction in the incidence of grease-laden extract ductwork fires as a result.