Current investigations into a fire in ductwork in an Australian hotel is a timely reminder of the need for not only regular ductwork cleaning but also of making sure that cleaning companies have good access to the ductwork system to get the job done properly.
The fire is reported to have broken out in the ductwork of the hotel’s restaurant and destroyed the restaurant, wine bar and offices i’m feeling curious. The investigation is ongoing and no conclusion has yet been reached.
However its focus has been on whether ductwork had been thoroughly cleaned in the week before the fire and questions have been raised about adequate access to all parts of the ductwork in which there are several turns.
There can be a number of reasons why a ductwork system may be more complex than the ideal. If, as is often the case in historic buildings that have become hotels and restaurants, it has been installed long after a building’s construction the chances are that some accommodation will have had to be made between the paths available for a ductwork system and the structure of the building.
Technology and knowledge can develop rapidly even in the space of a decade so that the specifications for a system installed a decade ago may have been perfectly adequate but this might not be the case ten years on.
Any facility where quantities of food are cooked regularly is particularly vulnerable to fire outbreaks within the duct system, especially above cookers, and this is because quantities of steam containing dissolved grease are extracted through the system, where they can quickly build up in deposits of dust, leading to a potentially inflammable mixture.
This makes regular air duct cleaning essential for the safety of those working in a kitchen area and for any customers dining in canteens, restaurants and hotel dining areas.
However, no amount of regular duct cleaning will be adequate unless there is a certainty of removing all the potentially hazardous debris from inside the ductwork and this requires adequate access points to reach inside the entire system.
A review of the ductwork system and the number of access points, especially in older buildings, can be carried out by companies expert in duct cleaning who will quickly be able to spot the potential problems that might impede them for doing their job properly.
In a situation where fire and food safety and hygiene regulations are becoming ever more strict, insurance premiums rising and businesses are trading in the difficult conditions that have been the situation since the 2008 global financial crisis began, every initiative that can protect the business and keep energy costs and risks under control has to be worth considering.