Unwanted Guests

Unwanted Guests

June 27, 2019 | print | Connexus Magazine

From pests to fires, experts dish out advice for facility managers adding foodservice experiences to multi-site facilities.

When multi-site retailers add foodservice to their stores, there are several moving pieces to consider and many priorities at play. But the health and safety of customers and staff should always be the top priority.

Two essential elements of foodservice safety are pest control and fire prevention. Connexus spoke with experts in both fields for guidance in handling these important safety issues. Here’s

their advice.

Infesting and Nesting

Adding a kitchen to a property often attracts unwelcome tenants due to the new product being offered — food. These pests bring the danger of disease, along with negative PR for your business. How can you, as an FM, best prevent these pests from coming in? And if they do take residence, what’s the best way to remove them?

Pest control expert Dominique Sauvage, Senior Director of Field Operations, Quality and Training, Copesan, explained that a retail space that begins offering foodservice could see an increase in potential infestations.

“Pests don’t just appear in a building,” he said. “They’re attracted there by something — food, warmth, a place to hide, somewhere to breed. Adding this new dynamic to your store opens the door to new pests.”

Sometimes the signs that you have an infestation aren’t obvious. FMs need to look for clues. Cockroaches, for example, live and breed in dark, moist areas you may not be able to access. However, you can check along the floors and inside cabinets for evidence of droppings or eggs. For rodents, look for nesting materials, like paper, grass, hair or cloth. Also, regularly check appliances and walls for signs of gnawing or holes.

Sauvage explained how the pest control industry operates. “Integrated pest management is the industry best practice,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to correct the problem before the use of pesticides is needed?’”

Here’s how FMs can begin to address a pest problem:

  • Plug all holes or passageways to prevent access.
  • Install automatically closing entrances/exits for staff.
  • Increase frequency of waste disposal.
  • Keep detailed records on how long ingredients are stored in the building.
  • Consider moving stored ingredients to different locations to counteract an infestation.


If none of these solutions solve the problem, then pesticides may be necessary. Some questions FMs should consider before using pesticides are:

  • Where is it applied? Pesticides are usually applied to doorways, windows or inside walls. FMs must be wary of applying pesticides too close to cooking equipment or too close to actual food.
  • What type of pesticide is being used? Make sure you ask your pest control expert if there are certain restrictions that must be taken into account based on the type of pesticide.
  • What steps need to be taken to ensure the cleanliness and safety of staff and consumers? If a pesticide must be applied to a food storage area, remove all ingredients or equipment like pots and pans prior to application. Allow the pesticide to dry completely before interacting with the area, and ensure all residue is wiped and cleaned before restocking.

“Pesticides will kill what is there today,” Sauvage said. “But identifying and correcting the root cause is a much better strategy.”

Up in Flames

Adding kitchen equipment creates another safety consideration for FMs: the prevention and extinguishing of fires. According to Bruce Falke, Director of Sales, Commercial Fire, one of the key steps in overseeing the installation of new kitchen equipment is the oven hood and exhaust system ductwork. “This is an extremely difficult process, because usually the ductwork can’t be built straight up,” Falke explained. “The building is already constructed, and measures have to be taken to fit the new exhaust ducts with existing electrical and plumbing fixtures.”

The new horizontal pathway also traps more fire-causing grease. Grease-laden vapors are produced during the cooking process. Normally, if provided a straight vertical path to exit, these vapors are filtered through the ductwork and forced out into the air via an up-blast fan. However, while traveling down a horizontal pathway, the grease-laden vapors hit the stainless steel and cause build up around tough-to-clean corners. “The result is a major fire hazard,” Falke said. “One spark and the whole thing can catch fire.”

Here’s how FMs can help prevent fire hazards when kitchen equipment is installed:

  • Review the blueprints of the building before installing the exhaust system and minimize horizontal runs.
  • Ensure access panels are installed in areas that normally would be tough to reach, allowing for easier cleaning.
  • Make sure there is easy roof access to allow for proper up-blast fan cleaning.
  • Ensure potential flammable materials are stored or stocked away from the kitchen.


Preventing fires is just one head of the hydra. The next question is, how should FMs extinguish a fire if one breaks out?

The kitchen fire suppression system (often called the ANSUL system) is probably the most important piece of fire-safety equipment in any facility with cooking equipment. A properly installed and serviced kitchen fire suppression system can stop a fire before it gets into the ductwork and before it spreads to cause major damage.

Falke referred to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standards for portable fire extinguishers, NFPA-10. “Each code recommends proper protocol surrounding the installation, inspection, testing, maintenance and repair [of fire extinguishers],” Falke explained.

Extinguishers used in kitchen environments have evolved. In recent years, fire safety experts have developed a new extinguisher (Class K) that is necessary for foodservice providers. The major difference is this extinguisher’s uncanny ability to efficiently put out fires that involve grease or oil, making the chemical compound inside perfect for fighting fires that originate in a kitchen.

The health and safety of customers and staff should be a top priority of all FMs when adding foodservice to a property. With the right safety education, you can avoid risks in your newly expanded store.

Pesky Pests

Dominique Sauvage, Senior Director of Field Operations, Quality and Training, Copesan, identifies the infestations to look for in foodservice facilities:


Roof rats (black rats)

Norway rats (brown rats)

House mice



Cockroaches (German, American, Oriental, Brown-banded)


Insects that can infest specific raw products like grains (granary, rice and maize weevils)



Once a Month

The recurring time frame to consult pest control professionals to keep infestations under control.

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