Guernsey Press

Cleaning firm denies failures led to a fire at restaurant

CLEANING company Q3 Services Ltd has denied that its failures to clean properly led to a fire at the former Red Grill House restaurant in 2020.

Q3 Services Ltd has denied that its failures to clean properly led to a fire at the former Red Grill House restaurant in 2020. (33019162)

The company is being sued for more than £1.75m. by the restaurant’s owners, Red Guernsey Ltd and Rosso (Guernsey) Ltd.

It is alleged that the fire was caused by the build-up of grease in the extraction canopies and ducting linked to a charcoal grill oven in Red’s kitchen.

In defence papers filed with the Royal Court, Q3 cast doubt on the oven being the source of the fire and stated that there had been a previous fire in July 2018, in the kitchen’s extraction canopy or ducting which caused smoke damage.

And in July 2019, Q3 said that the Fire and Rescue Service was called due to smoke coming from a kitchen ventilation outlet at roof level.

‘Shortly prior to the fire on 21 January 2020, the chef at the Red Grill House expressed concern about a fan that had been installed as part of the extraction system,’ said Q3’s defences.

‘It is not admitted that the source of the fire was the ignition of heavy grease deposits.’

Red and Rosso said that Q3 had been taken on as a specialist cleaning contractor and should have been aware that the insurance industry standard policy meant that all extraction systems should have been cleaned, including flues, extraction motors, fans and the entire length of any ducting.

But Q3 does not admit that it was required to ‘fulfil insurance obligations’.

And it had never said that it was ‘a specialist cleaning contractor with any specialist knowledge of extraction systems’.

Instead, Q3 said that it had held itself out as ‘a reasonably competent generalist cleaner that was willing to provide basic cleaning of unstipulated specification to the accessible kitchen ducting at the Red Grill House (then known as the Riva Bistro and Bar).’

In the light of this, claims relating to the knowledge that ‘any reasonably competent specialist cleaning company’ would have were immaterial in relation to Q3, since it did not purport to be one.

The defences also take issue with the contractual arrangements and Q3 said that it was brought in on an ad hoc basis to clean canopies and filters of the extractor systems and the limited section of the duct work near the canopies ‘within immediate reach only’.

It admits that it did owe the companies a duty of care to carry out the basic cleaning services with the reasonable skill and care ‘of a generalist cleaner unspecialised in cleaning extraction systems’.

Q3 also admits that it did not carry out a complete clean of the entire extraction system, but said it was never tasked with doing so and was not aware that this was expected and ‘it was not within its competence to undertake such cleaning’, nor was it in the contractual remit.

‘There was no breach of contract and/or negligence on the part of the defendant in the basic generalised cleaning services it provided to the plaintiff.’

The defences state Q3 did not cause the fire and if this had been caused by inadequate cleaning, that was due to the owners’ failure to have the cleaning done regularly and by a specialised cleaning firm.