The International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA for short) is referred to on occasion in Omni blogs. Some of our readers may be unfamiliar with this organization and the vital role it plays in fire prevention and personal safety at restaurants throughout the world. This issue will introduce IKECA, its mission, and why it is so important to the welfare of property and the people who work at, service, or patronize restaurants.
In 1989, a small group of kitchen exhaust cleaning specialists gathered at a meeting. They were very concerned about the lack of consistency and guidelines as to how the crucial job of kitchen exhaust cleaning was performed and inspected. They decided to form an association of like-minded cleaning professionals and come up with proper safety procedures, techniques, and other ideas to make kitchen exhaust cleaning efficient, safe, and thorough.
From this beginning, the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association came to be. Through the years, IKECA has partnered with other organizations dedicated to the same causes and goals as theirs. Through the combined efforts of IKECA and associations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), standards and procedures were established with the main goal of saving lives and property. There is no doubt that the standards that the experienced and dedicated members of IKECA have suggested have helped to accomplish that goal.
IKECA’s purpose goes far beyond establishing proper exhaust cleaning standards! The most important function of IKECA is education. This process varies depending on the particular segment of the restaurant industry involved. For example, IKECA conducts semi-annual certification meetings that include classes and testing for technicians in the hood cleaning field. Procedures, techniques, ethics, problem recognition and solving, and many other related topics are covered. The ongoing meetings sponsored by IKECA teach newer service technicians the ropes and expand and refine the knowledge of those who have been in the business for decades!
IKECA has also helped Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) to know what to look for when inspecting restaurants. AHJ’s, which include fire marshals and others who are responsible for keeping restaurants and people safe, often didn’t know how to inspect the hood and duct system or what potential safety or fire hazards to look for. That has changed a great deal, especially recently. IKECA has made a focused effort to meet with as many AHJs as possible. Now IKECA has over 500 AHJ members and it’s still growing. Their participation in the goal of saving lives and property is essential, so the increasing AHJ membership is fantastic.
Finally, restaurant owners, landlords, and property managers are recognizing the importance of the hood and duct cleaning process. Years ago, exhaust systems were not cleaned as frequently as needed, or an unqualified company would do it poorly on the cheap. Hood and duct cleaning doesn’t bring customers into the restaurant, so it wasn’t a priority. With input from IKECA affiliated hood cleaners, restaurant owners one-by-one are realizing that timely, professional cleaning, and safety accessories like NFPA 96 compliant hinge kits, access doors, and grease containment are necessary, not optional.
Restaurant employees and patrons, service providers, fire fighters, and many others have been the beneficiaries of IKECA’s long time and continued commitment to excellence in the hood and duct cleaning industry. Many lives have been saved. IKECA members will always strive to be the standard for the industry. Omni Containment Systems will always strive to progress the industry as well. Check out our website to see the grease containment solutions we have engineered.