BESCA has responded to growing demand for improved fire safety in buildings by adding new features to its Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) scheme website.
The scheme is based on BESA’s long-established guide to good practice and the most recently released Specification, TR19® Grease, which sets the industry approved standard for ventilation hygiene – an essential way to reduce the risk of fire being spread through kitchen extraction systems.
The Association’s certification arm BESCA audits work to ensure standards are maintained and manages a database of post-clean verification reports to give reassurance to clients and their insurers that ventilation systems are being maintained to a high standard. It also ensures that all operatives used by member companies are undertaking recognised training and have reached the right level of competence to meet the TR19® standard.
The scheme has now been further enhanced with the introduction of a ‘live’ feature on the VHE website to show whether firms are registered on the scheme and fully compliant with TR19® or whether their status is under review for any reason. This is designed to ensure the system of ensuring compliance is robust and can give clients the reassurance they need when looking to employ a company with fully up-to-date professional credentials.
They will be able to see if a member company is a fully approved member, under review or suspended from the scheme. Some firms may be going through an audit process before becoming approved members or be the subject of an ‘elevated compliance surveillance’ before BESCA confirms their compliance.
In some cases, a VHE member may have allowed their membership to expire or be the subject of a client complaint. By making all this information live, BESCA is sending out a powerful message to the sector and its clients about the vital role ventilation hygiene plays in building safety.
“With building owners, operators and insurers becoming more aware of the fire risks posed by poorly cleaned and maintained systems, there has been growing demand for a robust process to verify the quality of cleaning – particularly of grease extract systems used by commercial kitchens,” said BESA’s head of certification Duncan Sibbald.
“It is, therefore, crucial that clients can have full faith in the scheme by being able to see the current status of all vent hygiene specialist suppliers.”
Sibbald added that the high profile of building fire safety had led to a surge in demand for vent hygiene services, but as a result there were some non-specialist hygiene providers who do not necessarily understand their responsibilities operating in the market. “These companies may not have the right technical experience or ability to provide fully compliant post-clean reports to satisfy building insurers and keep occupants safe,” he said.
“Ventilation hygiene is a critical part of any fire risk assessment process and the VHE scheme helps building operators provide supporting evidence to prove that fire safety strategies are being well managed. It also helps the member company maintain an auditable trail of cleans and reduces insurance risk.”
“This new website feature will further boost adoption of the specification and demand for the rapidly growing VHE Scheme.”
Since it was first developed in 1998 by BESA’s specialist ventilation hygiene group, TR19® has been widely accepted by the building engineering industry and British insurers as the standard to which ventilation systems should be cleaned. The guiding principle of TR19® is that a defined, measurable level of cleanliness should be achieved to improve safety and comfort in buildings.
The VHE scheme uses the high technical standards established through the regular revisions of TR19® to protect clients, giving them the peace of mind that comes from employing a verifiably competent specialist contractor. This will help them keep their staff safe while also satisfying the increasing demands of insurers and protecting their corporate reputation.
For more information about the VHE Scheme go to: www.besca.org.uk/