Restauranteurs playing with fire… Know your AS1851 Compliance?

Commercial kitchen exhaust negligence; a tried and tested recipe for disaster.

Restaurant managers put it all on the line when using unqualified cleaners, lacking certified training, tools, and capabilities to clean commercial kitchen exhaust systems to AS 1851-2012. Almost 11,000 commercial kitchens are damaged by fire annually with 70% of commercial kitchen fires caused by faulty ducting and ventilation.

Not sure how often your commercial kitchen exhaust needs cleaning? See the requirements here which outline the schedule according the AS 1851-2012 code.

Failing due diligence or cutting corners not only risks the loss of building and insurance claim exclusion but there's also serious liability and litigation for fires caused by kitchen exhaust systems cleaned in a negligent manner.

If a kitchen cooking station fire gets into the exhaust system and onto the roof, the restaurant manager may first hear about it when someone runs in yelling, "You have a fire on your roof!" By the time the fire service responds damage can be extensive.

Grease residue combusts at approximately 370°C while cooking appliance flare-ups generate temperatures above 1000°C and easily igniting grease residue throughout the ventilation system, spreading an uncontrollable fire throughout the whole building.

The restaurant manager may first hear about it when someone runs in yelling, "You have a fire on your roof!"

Most commercial cooking stations are equipped with fire suppression equipment but exhaust systems leading up to the fan on the roof are not. As a result, restaurants with improperly cleaned exhaust system equipment, from the ventilation ducting to the roof fan, are at an elevated risk even after a fire at the cooking station has been extinguished.

A kitchen exhaust fire in Heathrow Airport spread through 200m of exhaust ductwork to a plant room before it was extinguished. It shut down three terminals, delayed or cancelled hundreds of flights and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in losses that far exceeded the physical damage bill.

The only way for restaurant owners to protect their businesses and livelihood from destructive commercial kitchen fires is by having exhaust systems cleaned in accordance with AS 1851-2012 with an emphasis on the importance of ongoing, effective cleaning and maintenance by trained, certified professionals, using best-practice approaches. Use our three tips to prevent a disaster in your restaurant business.


1. Use a certified cleaning company

Despite touting themselves as qualified cleaning companies, some are little more than two man operations lacking specialised tools, equipment, and expertise to adequately clean an entire system. The dangers of such an approach can be costly in terms of risk of fire and loss, as well as potential liability and litigation. Use a company like Clean-Air Australia that has trained technicians that can carry out work in accordance with, and exceeding standards of AS 1851-2012, IKECA and AIRAH.


2. Clean the entire exhaust system and request evidence

Keeping ventilation and exhaust systems clean and minimising grease residues will reduce the potential for fires to take over. In fact, Australian Standard 1851.6 – 2012 requires each commercial kitchen exhaust system to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year. As well as for health and safety, compliance can be crucial from an insurance point of view.

Cleaning method options include:

  • manual scraping and washing by hand
  • wet washing using steam or hot water and detergent
  • robotic systems using compressed air, rotating brushes, dry ice, vacuum or pressurised water.

Companies like Clean-Air Australia specialise in commercial kitchen exhaust system cleaning and maintenance and will provide cleaning certification. When using companies, request:

  • before-and-after photographs
  • a detailed system diagram of the kitchen exhaust system for future reference
  • a full report on its condition
  • a certificate of compliance


3. Seek experienced cleaning specialists with verified references

To protect the safety of the restaurant owner’s employees and customers, as well as avoid code violations and potentially catastrophic losses due to a serious building fire, it is vital to avoid unreliable firms with no track record of cleaning kitchen exhaust systems to code. Because success leaves a track record, it is better to work with expert cleaning companies which specialise in exhaust cleaning and have satisfied restaurant owners for decades. Clean-Air Australia has 3 decades of experience under their belt and can offer multiple references and case studies based on their expert cleaning practices. 

We also offer a free first inspection of a restaurant’s hood and exhaust system. Check for deficiencies, violations, and provide a report identifying any areas of concern, along with a suggested course of corrective action. Get in touch today.