IKECA has 98 articles published.

Another Fire That Could Have Been Prevented: Grease Fire Causes $325,000 in Damages to May Jen Restaurant

in Fire News by
May Gen Restaurant

A popular restaurant in Amherst, NY called May Jen Restaurant had a two-alarm grease fire. Unfortunately, it will take several months to rebuild. There were no injuries, but the grease fire caused an estimated $325,000 in damages.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze after 45 minutes and Amherst officials immediately conducted an investigation. It’s been determined that the fire began in the kitchen and traveled through the exhaust ducts all the way to the roof of the building.

Co-owner of May Jen Restaurant Susan Leong said, “The fire which started at the cook line in the kitchen and spread to the roof was pretty damaging. In addition to the kitchen, there was water in the dining room as well. We are working with our insurance company but it will take several months to rebuild”.

If you are a restaurant owner or facility manager, always remember to have your kitchen exhaust system cleaned properly according to NFPA 96 Standards on a regular schedule. Just like this fire, grease build-up in the exhaust system can quickly ignite and lead to costly damage.

Read more about this grease fire here.

On The Road With IKECA: Reporting NFPA 96 Noncompliant Exhaust Systems to AHJs

in Fire Prevention by
nfpa 96 noncompliant exhaust systems

As a knowledgeable IKECA Member, one of the best ways to strengthen your company’s relationship with local AHJs is to report any NFPA 96 noncompliant exhaust systems you come across. Below is an excerpt from page 12 of the IKECA Journal.

The Client

This client was a restaurant and property owner who had bought the property about 10 years ago. It is a wooden structure building with three floors: a restaurant on the first and rentals, both offices and tenants, on the other floors. The kitchen was an attached single story with rooftop exhaust. His staff only cleaned the hood and filters. He was forced to have his hood professionally cleaned by the local AHJ. During the clean, the hood techs noticed that their magnetic scraper did not attach to the ductwork. Of course, magnets do not stick to wood; in this case, wooden particle board was used for the entire duct run from the hood to the fan. Because the wooden ductwork could not be welded to the top of the hood, an investigation found a few inches of grease on the top of the hood where it leaked out but could not be seen without pulling ceiling tiles in the adjacent room.

Ductwork Made Of Wood
The wooden ductwork

The Action

We viewed this as very serious. Besides noting the violation of duct construction on the after-service report, the technicians also wrote on the hood label, “URGENT – SEE AFTER-SERVICE REPORT.” The next morning, I called and discussed the finding with the AHJ, who agreed to wait and see what actions the customer would take. A few calls to the client resulted in no returned calls. Two weeks later, upon return for reinspection, the AHJ saw the label, which called attention to the report; read the report; and required the customer to immediately upgrade the ductwork.

The Solution

The customer called me later that day and stated that he had no idea the ductwork was made of wood and asked for assistance and referrals to get it fixed. A call back to the AHJ informed him of the customer’s planned actions, and the AHJ was pleased as to how this issue worked itself out. The AHJ forcing the professional inspection and cleaning of the system was the driving force behind discovering the unknown wooden ductwork that was coated with and had absorbed grease for years. Our taking special communication actions to insure the AHJ knew about the problem helped in its being corrected. If that AHJ has to make a recommendation for a KEC company, who do you think he might recommend?

Learn how to talk to your local AHJs about noncompliant kitchen exhaust systems by reading page 12 of the IKECA Journal here.

A Look At Boston 7 Years After Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Regulations Were Introduced

in Industry News by

Back in 2007, a massive grease fire claimed the lives of two Boston firefighters. The worst part was that this blaze could have been prevented — the kitchen exhaust system was found to be well past its cleaning schedule. Regulations were formally introduced three years later to prevent similar disasters.

All kitchen exhaust cleaning companies in the city must have at least 500 hours of experience cleaning systems and must pass a written exam. As for the restaurants themselves, city officials are immediately notified when an AHJ fails an inspected system.

Seven years later, the enforced regulations have had widespread success in reducing commercial  grease fires across the city. Why? Because both the Boston Fire Department and Board of Health took it seriously from the start. They went a step above and assigned staff who spend their days reviewing service reports, conducting site visits, and following up on failed inspections.

Read more on this topic on page 13 of the latest issue of the IKECA Journal here.

Member Spotlight: Core Mechanical, Inc.

in Member Spotlight by
Core Mechanical Spotlight

By Chuck Howick, Sr. VP Core Mechanical, Inc., Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Division

1. How and where did your company start?
Core’s IAQ Division naturally evolved from Core’s roots as a company performing HVAC installations, service, & repairs. Simply put, our clients needed more. They came to realize that routine cleaning was a key element of “servicing” their systems, directly leading to fewer repairs and longer lasting units.

2. What area does your company service?
Total Indoor Air Quality.

3. What does your company stand for?
Core Mechanical, Inc. is committed to continuously improving its services in order to better satisfy the needs of its customers, exceed their expectations and deliver on time, high quality services.

4. How did you get started in the KEC industry?
When you think of HVAC, you picture conditioning the air you already have (Heating / Cooling / Filtering / Dehumidification / Humidification), but to achieve Total IAQ, you must be able to isolate and remove contaminants prior to them becoming part of the interior atmosphere. Kitchen exhausts do just that. So to maintain their performance we needed to keep them functioning as designed… by cleaning them.

5. What did you do in your prior life before KEC?
USN Nuclear Enlisted Machinist Mate, Engineering Laboratory Technician, and Officer.

6. What surprised you most when you started in the KEC industry?
The misconception that kitchen exhausts sole purpose was to keep grease from entering the buildings air. Very few consider the enormous amount of heat, moisture, smoke, and cooking odors that accompany that grease. A typical HVAC system would be overcome by these contaminants well before the grease built up to problem levels. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen grease an inch thick with multiple fungal growths thriving in the slime!

7. How did you get your passion for KEC and describe your passion for the industry in words?
I may have already partially answered this in question 4. You can’t have total IAQ without a fully functioning kitchen exhaust. Cleaning & servicing KE’s is a necessary step to reaching total IAQ.

8. How did you go about making the quality control changes that brought your company to where it is today?
IKECA is all about risk mitigation through training, awareness, and compliance. Delivering these attributes to my team inherently brought about the quality we desired. Technicians typically show up to work thinking they are going to do a good job. With tools in their bag including this training & awareness, they are guaranteed to succeed. With a company climate strongly embracing compliance, you get a win – win every time.

9. What were some of your goals that IKECA helped you to achieve and how did IKECA help you to achieve them?
IKECA provided the resources I needed to perfectly execute my projects in order to get return customers!

10. What do you think is the greatest value of being an IKECA member?
Immediate access to knowledge sharing. Goes back to question 8, providing the tools my team needs.

11. What would you most want to say to the AHJ’s about our industry?
Consider making IKECA membership a requirement to receive kitchen exhaust cleaning contracts. Continue to increase awareness of IKECA.

12. What would you most want to say to the restaurants about our industry?
I borrowed this from the IKECA website: “Hire Only the Best Trained and Certified IKECA Members” to clean & service your exhaust systems! The lowest bidder may not be the “best value” for your kitchen exhaust needs. Take the time to determine “best value”, it will pay dividends.

13. What is your favorite hobby?
Target shooting all types of firearms. I am thrilled by the engineering behind them and the skill needed to use them. The kid in me still likes the big boom also.

In Memory of Bernard Besal

in IKECA News by
Bernard Besal

It brings us great sadness to share the passing of Bernard Besal. To say that he’ll be missed is an understatement. His journey in this life crossed the paths of many and touched the lives of an uncountable number of people. We mourn the loss of a leader in our industry and a good man.

A dear friend of Barney’s stated, “a gentleman is someone who puts the comfort of others before himself,” and by this definition Barney was truly a gentleman.

Bernard was a founding member of the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association. He served as President and on multiple committees. He has been instrumental in bringing our Association to higher levels of credibility and recognition through his work on the Board of Directors, as a Chairman of the ANSI Standards Development Committee and his work with the NFPA 96 Standards Technical Committee. Barney was influential in the development of the Certified Service Agent program for Gaylord Manufacturing, which has benefited so many around the world.

Barney has left behind a family that loved him dearly, a group of friends that will be at a loss without him and an industry that will likely never again see a man of such character, devotion, and passion.

Barney always left more than he took. This attribute in him contributed more to IKECA than any single influence, and what made him so memorable to us. His dedication and generosity will be painfully missed.

So many of us have benefited from the tireless efforts of this true leader, including countless food service facility owners and operators; his life’s work has saved lives. Because of his giving of himself and his willingness to elevate the industry, there is no way to know how many people have benefited from his work.

Bernard Besal reflected the character, described by Theodore Roosevelt, as a man who contended in the arena of life. Undoubtedly, there were times where he was bloodied and bruised, but he contended. Barney not only contended, but he was a victor in the life he lived.

In the measure of things that matter, the love he has shown and the good he has done, will be memorialized in the hearts of those he has left behind. 

Barney, we will miss you.

Tips for Working with AHJs

in IKECA News by
AHJs fire extinguisher fire prevention

Developing a strong relationship with your local AHJs is necessary for your business. Showing them that you know NFPA 96 inside and out could lead to potential recommendations to restaurants in your area when an AHJ goes to do an inspection.

Here are some tips IKECA learned from an AHJ at a previous Annual Meeting.

1. Know And Abide By The Requirements Wherever Your Work Takes You
Every state, city, and county will have different jurisdictions. Staying aware of relevant codes and requirements builds trust and demonstrates good faith to your local AHJ.

2. Get To Know Your AHJ
Have open communication — keep your AHJ informed of new technologies, techniques and situations you encounter. After all, you are an expert.

3. Get Involved In Your Community’s Public Safety Efforts
Your AHJ will remember you if you take time to help in community-wide fire prevention education events. Look for volunteer opportunities to bud face recognition with your AHJ.

4. Ask For Help If Needed, Accept Responsibility For Mistakes
If you need advice about a particular situation you’ve encountered on the job, always go to your AHJ for guidance. They will work with you to come up with solutions.

Read and share all of the tips here.

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