Commercial kitchens, cooking equipment, and related exhaust systems are common sources of many fires. Cooking hoods are required to exhaust the smoke and grease-laden vapors away from the cooking equipment. Fires in commercial kitchens are a common occurrence. Fires can rapidly spread if suppression systems are not installed, not maintained or are intensified by grease accumulated inside the exhaust hoods and ducts. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking equipment causes approximately 61% of restaurant fires and cost $165 million in property damage over a four-year period from 2010 to 2014.¹
To help prevent fire and water damage within a commercial cooking/kitchen areas, the following safety tips can be considered:
Commercial kitchen fires can be destructive and dangerous. There are several ways you can help prevent a fire in commercial kitchen area. Some of the most common problems areas include the deep fat fryer equipment installation, having the wrong type of fire extinguishers and/or fixed fire suppression and having inadequate inspection and cleaning measures.
Equipment - Deep Fat Fryers
Deep fat fryers have been a primary culprit for many kitchen fires. Deep fryers were involved in one of five fires (21%), according to the NFPA. They contain hot, ignitable liquid and can easily turn a small fire into a much more severe one. To help prevent fires due to deep fat fryers consider the following recommendations:
Extinguishers and Fire Suppression
Many kitchens do not have enough or the correct type of portable fire extinguishers installed. They are the first line of manual firefighting attacks against these cooking/ kitchen fires. It is important to ensure that commercial kitchens are equipped with the following extinguishers:
Hoods and Exhaust Ducts
According to the NFPA, the majority of restaurant fires originate on the kitchen cooking appliance and flare into the kitchen exhaust system. Often, these fires travel up inside long interior lengths of ductwork and are very difficult to extinguish, spreading smoke and heat quickly up the duct.
Commercial cooking hoods must be sized and configured to capture and remove grease-laden vapors. These hoods should be protected using a UL 300- and/or AS 3772 compliant extinguishing system.
Cleaning and Inspection
Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment specifies that a properly trained, qualified, and certified company or individual inspects restaurant kitchen exhaust systems for grease buildup.
The primary focus of this inspection for cleanliness is to establish whether the volume of grease buildup within the exhaust system warrants cleaning.
If cooking equipment is not cleaned properly, grease residue can build up, creating a fire hazard inside the hood, ductwork, and exhaust fan. To reduce or even eliminate this risk, proper cleanup procedures should take place to remove grease deposits.
At a minimum, AS1851 requires monthly routine service checks and cleaning of filters, hoods and gutters. However, in many cases more frequent inspection and cleaning may be warranted if the kitchen is utilised intensively or if cooking processes such as deep fat frying are a frequent occurrence.
Similarly, exhaust ductwork should be inspected and cleaned at regular intervals. AS1851 stipulates yearly inspections and cleaning of ductwork for accumulated grease, however in many cases more frequent inspection and cleaning may be warranted particularly in the circumstances noted above. The priority areas to inspect are at the exhaust hoods and at any change of direction within the ductwork.
Specialist cleaning personnel should clean the inside of the hoods, filters and ductwork to bare metal ensuring all accumulated grease, oils, fats, etc. are removed.
Inspection and cleaning of kitchen hoods, filters and gutters.
Complete monthly routine service to AS 1851 requirements.
Monthly (more frequent if required).
Inspect and clean the kitchen exhaust duct for accumulated grease.
Complete yearly routine service to AS 1851 requirements.
Annually (more frequent if required).
Commercial cooking can create significant hazards, particularly if restaurant owners fail to implement the proper workplace controls. By installing properly designed equipment—including hoods, ducts, and fixed automatic extinguishing systems—businesses can reduce their fire hazard risk and focus on providing excellent service.
AS1851 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment. The latest version of the standard should be referenced.
AS 3772-Pre-engineered fire protection systems for cooking equipment. The latest version of the standard should be referenced.
For more information about protecting your business and employees, contact your local Chubb Risk Engineer, email us at: Risk.Engineering.au@Chubb.com, or visit us at: www.chubb.com/au-en/business/risk-engineering services.
¹Structure Fires in Eating and Drinking Establishments, NFPA, Feb 2017
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