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

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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.

Restaurant Expected to Reopen Three Years After Fire

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Source: ABC News 4


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A popular former downtown restaurant hopes to make a comeback, three years after it burned to the ground.

The Brick restaurant sat on East Bay Street nearly a dozen years until it caught fire in April of 2013.

Its owner, Matthew Quillen, says it only took 30 minutes for the flames to engulf the building.

“Just sitting there about one o’clock and my cook says, ‘Hey there’s smoke coming out of the vent,'” he said. “Within 30 to 45 minutes later, there were 30 foot flames at that point. It’s like, alright we’re not going to be back for a while.”

Long after the flames were out and only ashes were left, the prodding began.

“For three years straight it was, ‘When’s it coming back? Are you bringing The Brick back?'”

It never really left for Matthew.

“I never in my mind was trying to move on from the Brick. The goal in my mind was to get back,” he said.

Joejoe Fahey worked at the restaurant above The Brick.

“Everyone had that same feeling like something had been taken away from them,” he said.

He’s now a bartender at Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill downtown, and will be helping out at The Brick when it reopens.

“To have The Brick reopen is exciting. It finalizes, you know what, someone actually did it,” he said.

The Brick is set to open on Ann Street downtown in August.

“There’s always been a void missing since the whole thing,” Quillen said.

It’s the support of friends and family that gave him the push he needed.

“That’s what pushed me: The love that The Brick had. Until the fire I didn’t realize how much The Brick was liked.”

Recent Restaurant Scam

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There has been an onslaught of malicious prank calls made at restaurants across the country. The caller uses a blocked number and claims to either be from the fire department or part of the company that installed the kitchen’s fire suppressant system.

The caller has told restaurant managers that they need to run an immediate test of the system, or built-up poison gas will cause the entire restaurant to explode. After complying, the caller then orders an evacuation and tells the restaurant manager to break all windows and doors due to detected gas leak.

By the time the actual firefighters arrive, the damage is already done. The most recent case of this happened at a Jack in the Box in Longmont, CO. Another Jack in the Box in Tucson, AZ, a Burger King in Morro Bay, CA, and a Wendy’s in Phoenix, AZ have received the same calls.

If your restaurant receives a mysterious call like this, be sure to follow these steps:

  1. Determine if it’s a legitimate call and if not, immediately hang up.
  2. Contact your local police department and report the incident.
  3. Warn other restaurants in your area.

A surefire way to spot a scam call is if they threaten you by saying they will have you arrested if you don’t comply, pressure you to make a decision quickly, and demand that you give them personal information like your credit card number or social security number.

IKECA wants to keep you aware of both positive and negative issues occurring within the industry. Spreading awareness of this issue will protect more restaurants from becoming victims of this scam.

Commemorating National Fire Prevention Week

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National Fire Prevention Week

National Fire Prevention week is October 4th to October 10th!

IKECA is joining NFPA on social media to help spread the word about fire safety and prevention.

Starting Sunday, we’ll be posting important facts about the history of Fire Prevention Week and its importance to the safety of all.

National Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record, dating all the way back to 1920, with a different theme every year.

According to the NFPA website, “Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.”

IKECA’s principal goal is fire safety and prevention through proper and complete cleaning of kitchen exhaust systems. We are proud to have made significant contributions to the decrease in commercial kitchen fires.
Join the conversation on social media by using #FirePreventionWeek and we’ll be sharing information on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

OSHA Safety Update Regarding Confined Spaces

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confined spaces danger sign

IKECA continues our mission to inform and educate our members about important changes in standards relating to occupational hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just released a new construction standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA. This subpart is specifically designed to protect construction workers from confined space hazards that are not covered in Subpart P Excavations.

Here is the information you need to know:

What are confined spaces?

Confined space means a space that:

(1) Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter it
(2) Has limited or restricted means for entry and exit; and
(3) Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Confined spaces include: HVAC ducts, bins, boilers, sewers, storm drains, electrical vaults, tanks, manholes, digesters, GREASE ducts, etc.

How does this apply to the Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning industry?

Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning often involves access to confined spaces for proper cleaning.

Many people who die in confined spaces simply aren’t aware of the potential hazards, therefore all hazards must be addressed before entering a space to perform work, and eliminated whenever possible. The first step in confined space awareness is performing a confined space assessment to identify all permit-required confined spaces.

• Can an employee be trapped or asphyxiated?
• Is the atmosphere hazardous or is the air contaminated?
• Is there a need for testing?
• Is the work environment susceptible to really hot or cold conditions?
• Do we have a need to isolate energy sources?

Once evaluations are performed, employees need to receive awareness training on the potential hazards of confined spaces, confined space entry requirements, entrant and attendant training. A rescue plan must also be developed.

This is a starting point for finding information about these spaces, the hazards they may present, and ways to safely work in them. This can be a big deal and add significant cost to a project, as an employer it is our duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment. There are several resources available at OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions.

The full Subpart AA can be found here

Holyoke Councilors Like Fire Department Grease-Fire Prevention Plan, But Not Fee

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HOLYOKE — City councilors support a Fire Department plan to track whether restaurant kitchen exhaust systems are being cleaned properly to reduce chances of grease fire.

But they dislike the part of the proposal that includes a fee that could cost business owners hundreds of dollars a year.

Still, fire officials in a meeting with the City Council Ordinance Committee June 23 questioned whether it would be fair to skip a fee in this enforcement while still charging for items like inspections of sprinkler systems and smoke alarms.

The committee tabled the proposal without a set date for it next to be considered.

The proposal — the Commercial Hood and Exhaust Cleaning Fire Prevention and Protection Program — would require that companies that are licensed to clean the so-called hood and exhaust areas in restaurants and other commercial kitchens first get a permit from the Fire Department. The permit would cost $25.

The permits would help the department monitor where and when such systems around the city are scheduled for cleanings. The permit would require that cleaning companies submit photos of the hood and exhaust systems before and after the cleanings. The Fire Department would use the list of permits to inspect and ensure the cleaning was thorough, Michael Boucher, Holyoke Fire Department fire inspector, told councilors.

Capt. Anthony Cerruti and Boucher represented the Fire Department at the meeting.

Currently, with 236 establishments with commercial kitchens here, no organized schedule exists to make sure kitchens’ hoods, ducts, filters and fans are free of grease and combustible contaminants, Bocher said.

The proposed program would help in cracking down on companies that charge restaurants for cleanings but do only visible areas and leave build-ups of fire-causing grease and other contaminants in harder-to-reach duct areas, he said.

“We do inspections. It’s not up to code. They just had it cleaned,” Boucher said.

In such cases, he must call the cleaning company to do the job again. If the hood area is dirty enough, the Fire Department can order a restaurant closed until an inspection shows a thorough cleaning has been done, he said.

The problem is the cost to businesses would be more than just $25. The most frequent cleaning schedule is every 90 days so that’s $100 a year for a restaurant, on top of the $300 to $400 for each cleaning, according to information at the meeting.

That’s hardly all, said Ed Przystas of Hood Pros Inc. here, which does commercial grease hood inspections and cleaning.

The program would apply not only to restaurants but to other places that have what the state categorizes as a commercial kitchen such as schools, nursing homes, bars, churches, social clubs and hospitals, he said.

Requiring that multiple photos be taken of the hooded kitchen area will force the kitchen staff to stop working for at least an hour, he said.

“I’m going to charge them. I’m not going to do this for free,” Przystas said. “I want to do it right, but I don’t want the restaurant to be charged for it. It matters to me if the codes change because I need to adapt my business.”

Gurninder Dhaliwa, owner of Dino’s Pizza Restaurant at 615 Homestead Ave., said business owners already struggle with the city’s high commercial tax rate.

“That hurts us,” Dhaliwa said. “My concern is just the extra cost for us.”

Safety remains the priority but officials must realize the hardships businesses face, he said.

“Do you want us in your city or not? If you don’t want us, we’ll go somewhere else,” Dhaliwa said.

Ordinance Committee member Jennifer E. Chateauneuf said that as the owner of a restaurant here, Nick’s Nest at 1597 Northampton St., she understands that safety is first but that new city fees add to the small-business owner’s burden.

“Where does that $25 come from?” Chateauneuf asked Boucher, who said the state fire code.

Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi asked whether a program with a permit but without a fee could be established.

Boucher said the city not charging a fee in this case could prompt businesses that have installed sprinklers and smoke alarms to demand the city avoid charging them for those inspections.

“I guess I have to say that I’m seeing the perspective of the restaurant people,” committee member Linda L. Vacon said.

“I don’t think I’ve heard a convincing argument as to why there has to be a fee,” Lisi said.

“Again, I like the idea, guys, I just don’t like the fee,” committee member David K. Bartley said.

Bartley mentioned the prospect of the fee for the permit in such a program costing businesses more than $25.

Boucher said, “I guess it comes down to, what is someone’s life worth?”

Lisi also questioned whether requiring photos is a sound idea since technology allows for alterations of photos. Boucher said software exists to determine whether a photo has been altered.

Three fires have occurred here in restaurants since 2006 because of improper inspections and cleaning of hood and exhaust systems since 2006, Boucher said:

On June 2, 2006, fire destroyed a building on Dwight Street across from City Hall that housed the Pizza Palace and First Wok restaurants.

On Jan. 12, 2013, a fire in the kitchen exhaust duct at the McDonald’s at 285 Maple St. forced the restaurant to close. A new McDonald’s has been built on the site.

On Sept. 1, 2014, a fire in the kitchen exhaust duct closed the Burger King on Northampton Street at the Kmart plaza for about a week.

Proposal to Reduce Grease Fires Heads to Holyoke City Council

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Just because a kitchen exhaust system has been cleaned, doesn’t mean it has been cleaned properly. A lack of thorough cleaning can lead to grease fires that put a community, as well as firefighters, in avoidable danger. That’s why IKECA members agree to adhere to our Code of Ethics, which ensure that the safety of life and property remain an integral operations effort.

We were excited to see a proposal aimed at reducing the number of grease fires due to poor cleaning headed to the City Council in Holyoke, MA. It would require licensed cleaning companies to receive a permit from the Fire Department before beginning a project. These permits would provide an organized system that would allow the Fire Department to track the systems that are being cleaned and by who in Holyoke. With 236 systems in the area, making sure that each one remains functional is overwhelming. By using the permit list, the Fire Department would easily be able to access where and when these systems were being cleaned so they can thoroughly inspect afterwards. If this proposal is put into effect, it would protect the business owners from paying from services they aren’t actually receiving, as well as the community from devastating fires.

Councilor at Large Rebecca Lisi has filed the order that the City Council will consider. She explains her reasoning, saying, “On the one hand, it helps reduce the chance of grease fire igniting, which seems to be both difficult and dangerous for firefighters to extinguish, and on the other hand, it could help improve the efficiency with which (the department) can inspect the hoods if there is a permitted list of hoods to move through.” We commend Councilor Lisi for taking this issue seriously and hope to see it move forward.

Source : MassLive

Saugus, MA Grease Trap Regulation Proposed

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A draft regulation would allow food establishments to install internal grease traps and incorporates a host of safeguards to prevent fats, oils and greases (FOG) from entering the sewer system.

Earlier this month the Board of Selectmen got its first look at the draft regulation for grease trap requirements that was put together by Director of Public Health Frank Giacalone, Department of Public Works Director Brendan O’Regan and Plumbing Inspector Jim Kennedy.

The regulation’s stated purpose is to protect residents, businesses and the environment from sanitary sewer system blockages caused by grease, kitchen oils and other substances discharged from town food establishments.

Giacalone said the team set out to create a regulation that reduces FOG in the sewer system while at the same time not overburdening food establishments.

“We are proud of the document,” Giacalone said. “We wanted to take steps to make the sewer lines grease-free and this will reduce grease from happening, if not prevent it.”

The draft regulation stipulates that in every case where a food establishment is preparing or selling food that a suitable internal grease trap or secondary type (including but not limited to an external grease trap) that conforms to applicable building and plumbing codes be installed.

A grease trap is defined as a water tight device constructed to separate and trap or hold grease from the wastewater discharged from a food establishment to prevent grease from entering the sanitary sewer system. Under the regulation the grease traps — also referred to as grease interceptors or grease recovery devices — can be an internal grease trap located within the food establishment, an external grease trap located outside the establishment, or both.

The proposed regulation groups food establishments into low volume, medium volume and high volume grease producers. All establishments that don’t prepare foods on site or produce a low volume of grease would be required to install an automatic grease removal system, but these businesses might not be required to install an outside grease trap or secondary internal grease interceptor.

In the draft regulation point of use internal grease traps must be installed for pot sinks with bowl depths exceeding 10 inches, scullery sinks with bowl depths exceeding 10 inches, floor drains, floor sinks, automatic dishwashers, pre-rinse sinks, soup kettles, wok stations and automatic hood wash units.

The draft regulation covers capacity requirements of external grease traps and spells out that all existing food establishments with a ware wash sink or ware wash machine must, at minimum, install an internal grease trap, as well as an external or secondary grease trap.

In the event an external grease trap cannot be installed (whether due to space limitations or other conditions), the regulation mandates that a secondary interior grease interceptor be installed at the discretion of the Board of Health.

Continue Reading 

Source : Wicked Local Norwood
By : Mike Gaffney

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