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  • M. Villarreal

Fire Codes Every Commercial Kitchen Manager/Operator Should Know

Most restaurant fires begin in the kitchen. Fire hazards are inherent in the restaurant industry, and when combined with the fast-paced nature of it all, it is not a matter of IF but of WHEN an accident will happen.

To minimize the risks of something terrible, here are some of the fire codes every commercial kitchen manager/operator should know.

You Need An Exhaust System

The type of exhaust system you should look for depends on the type of food you process, how you prepare it, and in what volumes. For example, if you grill and deep-fry chicken, you'll produce vapors that require a Type I exhaust hood. If you are baking or using the oven frequently, you need a Type II hood, which will deal with heat, steam, and other non-grease vapors. We must emphasize that no matter what type of exhaust system you use, you must always ensure that it is clean. If there is a buildup of grease or soot in exhaust vents, they lose their effectiveness.

You Need To Install The Exhaust System Properly

The importance of having a properly installed and up to code exhaust system is self-evident. However, the amount of questions the NFPA Advisory Service Program gets about this issue, in particular, is staggering. If you don’t understand how essential exhaust systems are to the safety of your restaurant, that is a big issue. An exhaust system is designed to capture smoke and grease-laden vapors that can easily cause fires. For this reason, you need to make sure that your exhaust system works properly. It needs to be able to remove the majority of the grease from the air. You should also ensure that your exhaust system is made out of materials that will not compromise its integrity in the event of a fire in the duct. If you believe your exhaust system is not up to all of the fire codes, you should halt operations until you can install a proper system. You can rent out a storage unit, as experts from recommend, while your restaurant is going through renovation work.

Understand Fire Codes Pertaining To Clearance

Clearance between cooking equipment and flammable items is essential for commercial kitchens. This is important because in a kitchen moving at full speed, mistakes happen, so you need to make sure that you minimize the potential of small mistakes turning into a catastrophe. Fires in ducts may reach extremely high temperatures. This can generate a substantial quantity of radiant heat on the exterior. The radiant heat can ignite flammable materials. Section 4.2 of NFPA 96 requires a minimum clearance of 18 inches between heat sources and flammable materials.

Maintain The Kitchen Fire Emergency Systems

Compliance with all fire safety requirements is a must. It's also vital to know the latest fire alarms and emergencies regulations.

  • Have portable fire extinguishers: Commercial kitchens need Class K extinguishers. However, it's prudent to have Class ABC extinguishers on hand for other types of fires.

  • Inspect and test your kitchen fire suppression system: Fire suppression systems tend to fail if neglected. For this reason, they need frequent inspection and testing.

  • Test your fire alarms: fire alarms can quickly alert guests and first responders if a fire breaks out. You should have monthly visual inspections and functional testing of fire alarms to ensure they work when needed.

Encourage Your Employees To Keep The Kitchen Safe

Most restaurant owners outsource inspections for grease accumulation and fire extinguishing systems to third parties. However, you can also educate your restaurant personnel to examine a few things themselves. It would be best to encourage personnel to check for typical wear and tear on equipment regularly. All staff should begin their routine by examining the equipment to verify that it is clean. You can go the extra mile by making sure that the nozzles of any fire extinguishing systems are clear of grease clogs.

If you use heaters in your restaurants, make sure that no flammable objects should are near them. Additionally, employees should check the oil level before starting the fryer to ensure it is not too low. If you leave the heating coil exposed above the soil surface, the oil might catch fire. These are all simple but effective procedures in your facility's fire safety program that will allow your staff to participate in making your establishment safer actively.

Have A Monthly Maintenance Routine in Place

It isn't easy to keep an eye on everything all the time. However, you need to make sure that you take at least one day out of a month to maintain everything.

To make sure everything is in working order, every month, carry out the following maintenance tasks:

  1. Examine grease-arresting filters for excessive grease buildup—clean them as needed.

  2. Dispose of grease filter waste by yourself or by outsourcing the job.

  3. Examine the grease gutters for excessive grease collection.

We've gone over all of the essential Fire codes every commercial kitchen manager/operator should know. If you keep the things that we've talked about there in mind, you will undoubtedly be able to run an effective and safe business without any issues.

If you need a detailed and professional team to come in to clean and ensure your vent hood exhaust system is in excellent working condition, give Cornerstone Commercial Services a call today- 1.800.274.3905

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