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OPINION: New British Standard gas regulations allow condemned kitchens to reopen

Gas cookline

Covid-19 has caused a lot of chaos and as a result overshadowed an important development within the foodservice industry, writes David Pedrette of Target Catering Equipment…

The release of BS 6173:2020 – the latest update of the British Standards Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations for gas-fired commercial catering appliances was published at the height of lockdown in March of this year.

The review and renewal has been made as since the release of the British Standards Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations in 2009 it has been recognised that some establishments have been condemned and closed unnecessarily due to equipment failing tests that were not themselves accurate.

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Many landlords and foodservice businesses experiencing difficult times may feel the benefit of the new regulations as some kitchens that have previously had to close due to interpretation of the former BS 6173:2009 standards and application of them – implying that kitchens were unsafe and air quality poor or at risk – may now be able to re-open by implementing methodology within BS 6173:2020, due to improved accuracy of newly cited testing procedures.

The new regulations make compliance easier especially if you have gas fired kitchen appliances with an extraction system which incorporates variable speed control fans for the variable ventilation needs of the kitchen.

Complete ventilation systems now may not need completely upgrading, provided that air quality can be risk assessed and proven to be safe by monitoring safe levels of CO2 carbon dioxide and CO carbon monoxide within the kitchen environment. Therefore, it can also provide financial savings for catering establishments all over the UK.

So what is BS 6173:2020 about?

This British Standard covers the safe installation, servicing and maintenance of new and previously-used gas fired commercial catering appliances that burn 2nd or 3rd family gases (i.e. natural gas and LPG respectively).

BS 6173:2020 applies to catering equipment such as commercial cookers, fish and chip frying ranges, fryers, ovens, café boilers and urns, bain-marie units, tandoori ovens, kebab grills and barbecues.

At Target, we believe gas in commercial kitchens is still an issue and all electric, energy efficient kitchens are the way forward for users and operators to save money and make for a better, safer working environment.

With electric equipment you can remove the issue of harmful by-products of combustion out of the kitchen, but with gas, a naked flame, there is always going to be a source of fire which comes with serious risks, not to mention the potential for explosions associated with faulty gas equipment.

So, for those still battling on with gas appliances, ventilation requirement risk assessments have eased but for those wanting to enjoy the full benefit of modern cooking technology, the future really is renewable resource, electric powered equipment.

The gas dinosaurs will eventually die out but will live to fight another day coming out of Covid-19 with the latest BS 6173:2020 – British Standard Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations of 2020.

David Pedrette is managing director of Target Catering Equipment, a leading kitchen design and commercial catering equipment supplier. www.targetcatering.co.uk

Tags : gaskitchensopinionTarget Catering Equipment
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

4 Comments

  1. Nice, sensational headlines there, FoodService Media – “Wrongly Condemned”.

    Like gas engineers go around deliberately picking safety fights with customer – and then losing the business “I’ll always find someone else to sign it off if you won’t”.

    Now it’ll be “nah, mate, the new rules say I’don’t have to listen to you – I saw it on Social Media”

    Excellent article by David Pedrette – Gas is the Past, but not because of engineers trying their best with grey guidance and little official support – unhelpfully subbed.

    Gas is dangerous – as is Electricity.

  2. Electric Cooking is certainly the future where we at Reco-Air are concerned.
    The use of All electric equipment, with increasing operating efficiencies, allows for the
    use of our Recirculation Products and ticks so many environmental boxes.

    Please take a look at our New Website at http://www.reco-air.com

  3. Whilst I have a great respect for David, I think his article is somewhat misleading and inaccurate in suggesting that BS6173 2020 allows kitchens that had previously been identified as unsafe, to operate. If a kitchen was unsafe prior to March 2020 when BS6173 2020 was published, then it is still unsafe today.

    BS6173 was updated to take into account regulations like IGEM UP/19 which was introduced after the last review in 2009. One of the reasons for the introduction of UP/19 was to clarify the procedures for measuring CO2 levels to monitor safe air quality which had previously been included in HSE Catering Information Sheet 23.

    David suggests that BS6173 makes compliance easier for kitchens which have variable control speed control fans, however, on the subject of ventilation BS6173 does not provide any detailed guidance but refers to BESA document DW172 which specifies that variable speed controls should only be used to accurately set the correct extraction rate and should not be accessible to kitchen operators.

    IGEM UP/19 requires air quality tests to be carried out with all appliances operating at full load so the extraction rate must cope with this demand. When referring to variable speed fans UP/19 requires the air quality tests should be carried out with the fan on its lowest setting.

    I am well aware that there are many kitchens operating with variable speed controls that are accessible and that staff may reduce the speed to reduce the noise or to stop drafts, however, if the minimum speed means that the extraction rate is below that required to ensure safe air quality when all equipment is operating the installation would be classified under the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure as either At Risk if the CO2 readings were more than 2800ppm or Immediately Dangerous if the readings were above 5000ppm. This is no doubt one of the main reasons that some older kitchens were, and still are considered unsafe.

  4. there is obviously another advantage of electric over gas equipment. There is far less risk of unscrupulous traders passing off solid fuel equipment as approved gas appliances.

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