IS CERTIFICATION A REQUIREMENT FOR HOOD CLEANERS?
I have been asked many times about whether someone should be certified in hood cleaning (Also called Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning). The short answer is, “Yes”. Whether required by law or not, there are some very sound reasons to be certified:
-Certification for KEC is a legal requirement in many areas
– A certification shows your potential customers that you have taken the time and effort to become knowledgeable about your profession. This can make quite a difference to customers, when they are trying to decide about a hood cleaning company.
-Many insurance companies may require that you be certified in order to insure you with Liability Insurance. It has become increasingly more difficult to get liability insurance as a start-up hood cleaning company in recent years. Listing your certification is a big point in your favor when they are looking at whether to take a risk on you or not.
-Many hood cleaning customer’s insurance companies demand as part of their insurance contract that the hoods be cleaned by a certified company.
-Many chain restaurants require certification.
-Many government agencies (City, County, State, Federal) specify certification as a requirement to bid on hood cleaning in their facility.
How does one become certified? We recommend a good training program and certification through the UAMCC (the United Association of Mobile Contract Cleaners), which now offers kitchen Hood Cleaning Certification : Web Site http://uamcc.org
TRAINING: Leaning to actually DO it.
Training should be done by someone knowledgeable in the Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning business. It should also be done by someone who knows how to train people. Being able to do hood cleaning does not necessarily qualify a person to train others to clean hoods. And just learning it online or out of a book, while better than nothing, is a long way from being really trained. Teaching someone only for the purpose of passing a test can also be a huge error because it leaves one with the knowledge but not the know-how. That’s the difference between training and teaching. Because a student memorizes and can spit out correct answers for a test does not mean the student can actually clean hoods effectively. Good training enables a person to correctly clean kitchen hoods using safe, efficient and effective methods and such training goes way beyond merely teaching them to pass a test. It conveys to them what not to do as well as what to do using hard own real world experience as a guide. And actually doing hood cleaning on the job helps the trainee to retain the training way beyond the retention that any mere book study could accomplish.
(TRAINING: Ability SCS Inc. offers an apprenticeship program that will set you up for the best chance of success. I do not certify, but I did help compile the UAMCC KEC Certification test. The program covers basic organization, equipment, methods, codes and marketing. My graduates have learned the information and methods needed to be successful hood cleaners. See my website www.abilityservices.com for more details.)
Legal Certification Requirements
In many jurisdictions, certification is a legal requirement for hood cleaning. Unfortunately, there is NOT a straight answer to the legal requirement without some research on your specific location. The fact is that law making and enforcement bodies in each state and sometimes each specific county have separately adopted particular building and fire codes as law. These codes vary in hood cleaning certification requirements. The state of Massachusetts, for example, has a state certification test as a requirement for all hood cleaners in the state. This requirement followed on the heels of a disastrous hood fire that caused over $10,000 damage and resulted in the deaths of two fire fighters. The most noted code that requires certification is NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 96. There are a minority of states that have adopted this fire code as law. Most have adopted the International Fire Code, which does not require certification, as the applicable code in their jurisdiction. Some have written their own codes, mostly based on the NFP96 or the IFC mentioned here. To find out what code your state has adopted check the website www.public.resource.org. Toward the bottom of the page is a colored link: “State Building Codes [ law.resource.org ]”, which connects to a table listing the various codes adopted by the various states. California has its own Fire Code, which you can download in PDF format.
To complete your research, call your local Fire Department and find a knowledgeable person or Fire Marshall. DO NOT ask if you have to be certified. This may get them researching it and may change their viewpoint. Ask what the requirements are for hood cleaners in your area are. This is your straight answer, because per the various fire codes, the people responsible for enforcement, the AUTHORITY HAVING JURISTICTION (NFPA 96 Code) or the FIRE CODE OFFICIAL (IFC Code) is the last word on the subject.
You can view the codes on line in full. NFPA96 is available for free at the National Fire Protection Agency Web site (Use Google). It takes a little looking, because they are trying to sell you a code copy. IFC is available via public.resource.org (Enter both periods or you get a different site).
There is a good article on the history of the development and implementation of these codes at Wikipedia.org if you are interested.
More on UAMCC Certification
We have just finished working (Myself and other hood cleaners) to assemble a certification test for hood cleaning for the UAMCC (United American Mobile Contract Cleaners association). We hope to be certifying hood cleaners soon. Check out our site at UAMCC.org. In addition to all its other benefits, UAMCC has reasonably priced certification testing (Free).
The UAMCC is a fantastic organization. Its purpose is to assist the mobile contract cleaner in his/her business. We have power washers, window cleaners, roof cleaners, kitchen hood cleaners and a number of others. We also have some of the industry’s best suppliers as affiliates. Our more experienced members mentor the newer ones, and even experienced members learn new techniques and successful actions from each other. Check it out. http://www.uamcc.org/. The free classes at our local events are incredible. They are gold mines of information from some of the most successful people in the industry.
Paul Schneider Owner Ability SCS Inc.
Experienced in KEC Since 1977
UAMCC Board of Directions, and Hood Cleaning Certification Committee
Ability Apprenticeship Training Program Director of Training