Making sure you are correctly insured and speaking with your duct cleaning contractor about any safety hazards or compliance issues in your system is the single most important thing any publican can do to keep their business safe. Here’s why:
Seven hotels have sold in western Queensland within six months according to the ABC:
- Toompine Pub, Quilpie
- Exchange Hotel, Muttaburra
- The Birdsville Hotel
- Post Office Hotel, Cloncurry
- Top Pub, Julia Creek
- Union Hotel, Blackall
- The Wyandra Pub
There are many still on the market as regional pubs have a troubled past, with the Insurance Council of Australia saying they are becoming a growing problem to insure.
Fire hazards have become a problem for old and abandoned pubs, with recent fires at the Lyceum Hotel in Longreach and the Muckadilla Hotel west of Roma.
A fire that originates in an old building for example, can spread into and up the ductwork system, where it is quickly fuelled by the oil and grease within the duct. This can ignite combustible materials outside of the duct, via radiant heat transmission, or can ignite grease that has leaked out of duct seams, spreading the fire further. Because fire dampers are not allowed within the kitchen exhaust ductwork, a fire that spreads within and between grease-laden ducts can compromise a building’s passive fire protection such as fire-rated compartments.
The Insurance Council said one pub per fortnight across Australia experienced a fire and the price to insure pubs and clubs had increased as a result in the past five years.
It is for this reason that a record of the maintenance process and the duct cleaning and inspection results must be kept in case of fire or for insurance purposes.
What’s more, duct cleaning contractors should be fully insured and provide “before” and “after” photos of the cleaning work. If 100 per cent of the system is not being cleaned, an owner or operator should
ask for a drawing that highlights the areas being cleaned, all areas not able to be cleaned, and any improvements to access that could be made to reduce the percentage not cleaned. Regularly performing physical inspections and keeping the kitchen exhaust system clean is a MUST.
Outback pubs not dead yet
Despite the added pressures to outback pubs and regional business, the Australian Hotels Association believes the sales have given the rural tourism industry a bright future.
The association’s chief executive, Bernie Hogan, said outback pubs were still a viable business, especially for buyers wanting to enter the industry.
“I’m not telling western Queenslanders anything by saying the drought has been tough, but these pubs are still a good business,” he said.
“We see fairly regularly that owners are looking for a more modest investment or looking for a tree change moving to western Queensland.
“Pubs are still seen as the centre of the community … they’re the meeting place, they’re the grocery store, they’re where the Royal Flying Doctors know where to land.”