• As of January 1, 2018 The brand new logo that was created and released in 2017 will be the only official logo in affect and allowed to be used on any electronic media however, any such media like truck wraps, stationary, and postcards will be grandfathered in. Contributing Members will be allowed to use the UAMCC logo in any advertising. Permission to use the logo otherwise must be in writing. Logos used in electronic formats (ie: Websites, forums, etc.) must be linked back to the member’s profile in the UAMCC directory. Contributing Members are members that are paid and current with their dues. Please contact info@uamcc.org with any questions.

History Of Hood Cleaning


New member
24 • June 2005 • CleanerTimes
he significant increase in restaurants during
the 1940s and 1950s brought a realization: the
number of structure fires occurring within buildings
supporting cooking processes was escalating. Thus
was born the recognition of a need to provide methods
for controlling the accumulation of flammable
cooking byproduct within kitchen exhaust removal
systems. In this early period when Americans were
discovering dining out, kitchen exhaust systems were
simple. No safety features existed such as the grease
removal devices, fire extinguishing systems, and stringent
construction features dictated by model building
codes of today.
Kitchen exhaust systems were not originally
designed or constructed with cleaning considerations
in mind, and therefore an evolution would occur with
the construction requirements concerning serviceability,
as well as the actual cleaning processes, to
provide effective control of the hazard.
Prior to positive cleaning methods being a routine
component in the protection of life and property
from fire at eating establishments, kitchen
exhaust systems were “fireproofed” by introducing
a mixture of calcified lime and sodium bicarbonate
into the exhaust hood plenum and exhaust
ductwork to saponify liquid grease residue deposited
within the system between treatments. Often
“hood cleaning” was limited to only the exhaust
hoods, and perhaps the exhaust blower when the
unit was installed in an accessible location. The early
cleaning techniques were simply a manual scraping
process and perhaps scrubbing of these areas.
Only a few fireproofing contractors used hot water
The Evolution of Kitchen
Exhaust Cleaning
by Bernard Besal
CleanerTimes • June 2005 • 25
hoses, and use of a wash process was
generally limited to the exhaust
hoods themselves.
Cleaning the exhaust ductwork,
when it was done, involved sweeping
the accumulated fire retardant
grease mixture out with a broom.
However, cleaning the exhaust duct
interior was seldom done due to
little or no accessibility and a lack of
available tooling for cleaning the
interior of smaller exhaust ductwork.
At this point in time, the fireproofing
process was considered
sufficient for treating the system
for the purpose of fire safety. The
thought was that when exposed to
fire, the mixture of powder applied
to the interior of the system would
produce CO2 gas when its temperature
was elevated by the fire.
Repeated “powdering” of the
exhaust ductwork posed long term
challenges for exhaust systems
when not accompanied by a removal
process, since the repeated depositing
of flame retardant powder on top
of grease reduced exhaust airflow,
and increased the rate of grease deposition
within the ductwork. Large
quantities could add weight in excess
of the designed load for the duct to
carry, and in many instances completely
occlude the duct interior.
As the frequency of fires in cooking
establishments increased, and
the need to provide actual removal
of the grease and powder was evidenced,
early steam cleaning equipment
and some pressure washing
equipment began being available.
Very few fireproofing contractors
used this type of equipment due to
the cost and the complications of
washing the exhaust ductwork.
Early model building and fire
codes began to develop the construction
techniques and materials
used in the exhaust systems, and
some early manual-release CO2 and
sodium bicarbonate fire systems
began to be employed. However,
all the way up to the 1970s, these code
guidelines did not include the features
required to facilitate cleaning.
Acceleration of the oxygen supply
by the exhaust blower could cause
duct fires to burn at temperatures
exceeding the exhaust duct containment
ability, and transferring of
the fire to building components was
a regular concern. Manufacturers of
exhaust hoods were attempting to provide
source contaminant removal at
the hood and prevent the depositing
of grease residue within the exhaust
ductwork by including grease filters
constructed of mesh. Additionally,
water wash hoods were being developed
as higher efficiency grease
removal devices with built-in fire
safety features such as thermostats,
fire dampers, and wash systems to
help eliminate human error associated
with the maintenance of the primary
grease removal devices.
Many of these components, and
the routine application of fire
dampers, added complexity for the
exhaust cleaners when considering
the actual cleaning of the exhaust systems
in lieu of the older practice of
fire proofing.
Later development of automatic
fire extinguishing systems increased
the level of protection by offering
coverage for the cooking appliances,
grease removal devices, and the
exhaust ductwork. Nonetheless, statistics
continued to indicate that the
leading source of fires involving eating
and drinking establishments was
the cooking areas, with foodstuffs
being the first material ignited.
High-rise structures further complicated
the cleaning of exhaust systems
as the ductwork could extend
through the building in vertical and
horizontal configurations. The strategy
of designers appeared to be to
build the exhaust systems to withstand
fire conditions rather than to
offer features to increase access supportive
of cleaning.
Early exhaust cleaning contractors
were not organized in any fashion
to adequately effect change of
the model codes, so cleaning firms
were faced with attempting to clean
the accessible portions of kitchen
exhaust systems as best as their
For information circle 128
26 • June 2005 • CleanerTimes
ability and the available equipment
would allow. Throughout the
1970s, many systems remained
with ample fuel load within portions
of the exhaust ductwork to
propagate fire, and frequent losses
were recorded in structures supporting
cooking processes.
Naturally, the insurance industry
recognized that the exhaust cleaning
firms were one of the responsible
parties involved with the fire safety
of the kitchen exhaust systems, and
as a result, could be an actionable
party to the loss in the event fire was
to propagate through the exhaust
system. Exhaust cleaning firms now
could be held liable in a court of
law in the event of the loss of the
exhaust system, or the building, by
fire while under their care.
In the late 1980s, a small group of
individual exhaust cleaning firms
from across North America recognized
the need to improve the image
of exhaust cleaning contractors,
effect changes to the model building
codes to reflect construction details
supportive of cleaning processes,
and build guidelines for the exhaust
cleaning industry to follow
in their effort to protect life and
property from fire.
The International Kitchen Exhaust
Cleaning Association (IKECA) was
formed in the year 1989, and representatives
were appointed to serve
on the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) Committee on
Venting Systems for Cooking Appliances
(NFPA 96 Technical Committee).
Prior to individual exhaust
cleaning contractors and representatives
from IKECA serving on the
committee, no installers or maintainers
were represented on the
committee. Feedback on actual conditions
from the field began to
foster changes within the NFPA
Standard 96 as a result of input
from the maintenance sector.
Additionally, IKECA has led the
industry through formation of multilevel
certification programs for
cleaning personnel and continuing
education credit requirements to
help members keep abreast of
current technology.
Today, as in the past, there are
three methods for exhaust cleaning:
manual removal of cooking
byproduct, steam cleaning, and
pressure washing. Many cleaning
firms use a combination of these
processes to prevent fire by removal
of the fuel from within the kitchen
exhaust systems.
Considering the complexity of
modern kitchen exhaust systems,
liability issues, insurance requirements,
and compliance requirements,
choosing a contractor that is
best qualified for kitchen exhaust
byproduct management should
begin with contacting the IKECA
headquarters in Rockville Maryland
at (301) 230-0099, or info@ikeca.org
Bernard Besal is the owner of Besal
Services, Inc.
Editor ’s Note: PWNA offers,
among other certifications, Kitchen
Exhaust Cleaners Certification. Visit
www.pwna.org for information. CT
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