Cleanliness in a hotel is held to a very high standard. Though most guests do not get the chance to step inside a hotel kitchen, this does not mean that it shouldn’t be held to this same standard as other areas of the property. Keeping unseen areas of the hotel clean, safe, and sanitary is just as important, and one of these key areas is a hotel’s kitchen exhaust system.
In order for a kitchen to remain in compliance with the International Fire Code, the kitchen exhaust system must be cleaned regularly by a professional. The frequency of these cleanings depends on the type of cooking done in the kitchen, as well as how often food is prepared.
When hiring a professional to clean the hotel’s kitchen exhaust system, it is important to select a vendor that offers top quality service and adheres to the industry’s strict standards. One trade association that helps set these standards is the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA), which works to determine standards for cleaning, inspecting, and maintaining commercial kitchen exhaust systems with the goal of reducing the number of commercial kitchen fires that occur each year in the U.S. One of these standards that hoteliers should pay close attention to is the IKECA ANSI C10 standard, which is now included as part of the International Fire Code to ensure that vendors use the proper methods for inspecting and cleaning kitchen exhaust systems.
To ensure that kitchen exhaust cleaning companies have high standards that are in line with the International Fire Code and other standards required to pass health inspections, hotel kitchen managers should personally familiarize themselves with IKECA and local jurisdiction standards so they know what to look for when choosing a vendor. It may be tempting to select an inexpensive vendor to keep costs down. However, hotels should look closely at vendors that are able to offer kitchen exhaust system cleaning services at a cost significantly below competitors to ensure that they are still adhering to IKECA and industry standards. Choosing a lower quality vendor whose service does not meet industry standards will ultimately mean incurring greater long-term expenses.
Failing to comply with kitchen exhaust cleaning industry standards can have serious ramifications for a hotel kitchen. These standards are required for a kitchen to pass a health inspection and to stay in compliance with local codes. Not meeting standards will be a code violation and can result in a number of fines. A kitchen exhaust system that has not been cleaned properly also puts the hotel kitchen and staff at a greater risk for damaging grease fires. If a fire occurs, hotels may be forced to make expensive repairs to the kitchen, and will also lose out on revenue because the kitchen, and potentially the entire hotel, will need to shut down temporarily to repair the damage.
Though it is important that hotel kitchen staff clean the kitchen on a daily basis themselves, which may include visible parts of the kitchen exhaust system, daily cleanings should ultimately supplement professional cleaning. While a staff member may be able to clean the outside of the exhaust fan, they will not be able to clean the entire system, which is required to pass inspection and will significantly reduce the likelihood of a kitchen grease fire.
In the hospitality industry, providing guests with high-quality service goes hand-in-hand with cleanliness. Even though most hotel kitchens remain out of guests’ sight, it is essential that kitchen managers do not cut corners, but rather, ensure the highest standards for the safety and success of the hotel.
About the Author
Jack Grace is a former president of the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association and a senior business implementation specialist for HOODZ International, a commercial kitchen exhaust system cleaning and preventive maintenance company.