A specialist training centre for indoor air hygiene in commercial buildings and grease extraction cleaning in kitchens has been launched in Scotland.

The Stirling-based school is run by AEME Scotland - set up as a collaborative venture between Simone Hart Sibbald, Managing Director of Perfect Service Solutions, and Devon-based training company AEME - in a bid to improve air quality standards and reduce commercial kitchen fires.

Courses at the centre, in Stirling Enterprise Park, will support the industry's primary standard for ventilation hygiene (BSEN 15780) and the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) Guide to Good Practice – Internal Cleanliness of Ventilation Systems (TR19).

They will also cover Inspection and Testing of Fire and Smoke Dampers, supporting BS9999 and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

The training courses cater for firms working in ductwork cleaning and ventilation hygiene across Scotland and the North of England, as well as officials such as Fire Safety and Environmental Health Officers.

The first group of students recently graduated from a course in ventilation hygiene and the next training programme begins later this month.

Simone said: "This is the first centre of its kind in Scotland and there's been a huge gap in the market until now. We want to raise the credibility of the engineering services industry and get rid of bad practice, which can happen when people are not trained properly.

"This is about protecting lives and business assets. If ductwork is not cleaned to a high standard we will see more kitchen fires, bringing with them the risk of death and injury plus financial losses."

Many accidental fires in commercial buildings are caused by cooking appliances and can be worse if a blaze spreads through poorly maintained grease extraction systems and ductwork.

Meanwhile, poor indoor air quality has been linked to deaths and long-term health problems and reinforces the need for well-run ventilation systems.

Simone continued: "It is astonishing that in the 21st Century we seem to be losing the battle to clean up the air we breathe. Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to our health and – particularly shaming – to the health of our children.

"We need to ensure buildings are 'safe havens' which protect occupants from the worst effects of pollution – and by addressing available ventilation solutions it is possible to create indoor clean air zones."

World Health Organisation figures indicate around 25% of global young child deaths are attributable to unhealthy environments including air pollution.

A 2016 BESA report highlighted fears among office workers that poor workplace air quality has a negative effect on productivity and well-being.

BESA Chief Executive Paul McLaughlin said: "People spend more than 90% of their time indoors and there is a lot more we can do to improve indoor air quality. A series of low cost maintenance measures to ensure ventilation systems work properly and incoming air is filtered and cleaned would make a major difference to the health and well-being of occupants."

The AEME practical courses cover all aspects of ductwork cleaning and ventilation hygiene and are registered with the Construction Industry Training Board NI.

Students learn everything from what equipment to use, methods of cleaning, the testing involved, the evidence needed for any work done and the guidelines and legislation they must adhere to.

Courses will initially be led by AEME Chief Executive Peter Reid, who said: "This training centre will lead the way in improved air quality and standards in Scotland.

“It will train people to the right standards and make responsible people aware of the current regulations for air quality and kitchen extract standards. The quality of the training combined with Simone's aspiration and drive will make this a real Centre of Excellence for Scotland."

Ben Martin of Edinburgh-based BM Cleaning plans to attend a course with some of his staff.

He said: "It's great there will be a training centre in Scotland to streamline standards because not everyone is working to the right standards.

"It means operatives no longer need to travel to England for training and will also be a good refresher for people who have already been trained but want to keep up with current standards which are always evolving."

For more information, go to www.aeme.co.uk or call Vickie Kelly on 07903 564644.