What Does "Trained and Certified" Mean in the Kitchen Exhaust Industry?

When hiring a contractor for your business, you want an expert who knows exactly what they're doing. This is especially true for kitchen exhaust cleaning. When done right, kitchen exhaust cleaning and maintenance can do wonders for both the safety and energy efficiency of your kitchen—but when done incorrectly, it can have devastating effects. You need a contractor who is trained and certified so that you can be confident that they know the ins and outs of your equipment's needs.

So, what does it mean for a kitchen exhaust contractor to be "trained and certified"? Understanding these terms is key to making sure that you're hiring the right company for the job.

What Are Certifications Based On?

A certified contractor knows how to keep your kitchen equipment functioning properly and in-line with the industry's safety standards. These include the National Fire Protection Association Code 96 (NFPA 96) and International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association Standards.

The International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) is one of the industry's most prominent trade associations, representing kitchen exhaust cleaning specialists and inspectors of commercial kitchen exhaust systems. The IKECA offers a variety of certifications, including:

  • Certified Exhaust Cleaning Technician (CECT): This is the baseline certification for individuals. It authorizes a technician to work underneath the supervision of a Certified Exhaust Cleaning Specialist. A technician with the CECT certification has demonstrated knowledge of the NFPA 96, OSHA Health & Safety Standards, and International Fire and Mechanical Codes.
  • Certified Exhaust Cleaning Specialist (CECS): This is the next level of individual certification. Every active member of the IKECA must have one CECS or higher on their crew. This certification covers ANSI/IKECA C-10 Standard, NFPA 96, and International Fire and Mechanical Codes, as well as OSHA Standards for Hazardous Communication, Personal Protective Equipment, Control of Hazardous Energy, and more.
  • Certified Exhaust System Inspector (CESI): This certification is designed for individuals "whose job it is to investigate and report on the cleanliness condition of commercial cooking and ventilating systems." It covers three main areas: systems assessment, cleanliness inspection, and conclusions/recommendations.

What Is the Difference Between "Trained" and "Certified"?

The terms trained and certified might seem interchangeable at first glance, but they actually refer to two different types of qualification, each with its own benefits.

If someone has been trained, that means they know the process of cleaning. They have gone through a hands-on training program where they have received experience working on exhaust systems. As the IKECA describes it, students who go through a training program "should have a working knowledge of how to clean and inspect a variety of systems using a variety of methods."

However, someone who is certified also knows the reasons behind the cleaning process. They have passed a test demonstrating that they have working knowledge and "competency on the guidelines, codes and standards in the industry." In other words, they've studied the industry's standards and proven that they know them inside and out.

Who in the Company Is Required to Hold the Certification?

Only one person within a company must hold a CECS or CESI level of certification. Other employees are not required to have any certification. They may be trained, but they are not necessarily certified. It pays to be aware of this distinction as you select your contractor.

How Can a Company with Both Trained and Certified Personnel Benefit You?

When a company has techs and office staff that are both trained and certified, you can trust them with the safety of your kitchen. It means they have both the practical know-how and the deep knowledge of safety standards to keep your equipment in top shape. This is crucial to preventing fires caused by dirty kitchen exhaust systems. Plus, a well-maintained exhaust system can make a big impact on your kitchen's energy efficiency, ideally saving you money on your energy costs.

At Pronto MS, we're proud to say that our staff is both trained and certified, so we can provide the utmost quality of care to your kitchen exhaust systems. We are committed to providing first-rate work, and our team of experienced professionals is ready to support your business. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer throughout Chicagoland.