Fire Protection & Maintenance Essentials For Commercial Kitchens

 

Society Insurance is a niche insurance carrier specializing in restaurants and bars. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics show that most fires in eating and drinking establishments occur in the kitchen—and specifically involve cooking equipment. Read on for essential commercial kitchen requirements, protection and maintenance activities.

Kitchen Fire Protection

All cooking equipment which produces grease-laden vapors must be protected by a UL-300 Automatic Extinguishing System
(AES). The AES must be serviced and inspected every six months to ensure the system will function and activate as intended in a
fire scenario. 

Hood and Exhaust Systems

All cooking equipment which produces grease-laden vapors must be provided with proper ventilation. The exhaust hood must
cover all cooking appliances to adequately capture all grease-laden vapors.

The exhaust hood must be properly fitted with a baffle-style filter to minimize grease vapor being deposited in the exhaust duct
or fan. Grease filters collect grease as the grease-laden vapors flow up into the hood, reducing the amount of grease that travels
directly into the duct. While this is great in improving the amount of time between duct cleanings, it does mean that the grease
filters must be cleaned routinely. The most common cleaning interval for grease filters is once a week, but it may need to be done
more often if you do heavy grease cooking.

Ventilation systems/hood and duct work need to be inspected and/or cleaned at regular intervals. Cleaning frequency varies
depending on the type and volume of cooking being performed. Most typical restaurants need hood cleaning performed at a
minimum frequency of every six months. Cleaning needs to be completed quarterly for wok cooking and other higher volume
cooking that produces large amounts of grease-laden vapors. Solid fuel cooking, including meat smoking, BBQ pits, wood-fired
grills, etc. needs to be inspected and/or cleaned monthly by a qualified kitchen exhaust cleaning contractor. NFPA 96 guidance is
provided in the chart below. 

Housekeeping

Regular scheduled cleaning in the kitchen is necessary to reduce the fire risk. Whenever grease is visible on any surfaces or
appliances in the kitchen, it indicates a cleaning is necessary.

Grease-Contaminated Cloths

Restaurants and bars typically use rags and towels to clean up cooking oil, grease residues and spills. Grease-contaminated
linens can spontaneously combust due to oxidation and breakdown of oils trapped in the fibers of the linen. The oxidation process
results in heat being generated which can result in a linen fire. Therefore, any grease-contaminated cloths must be stored in an
approved metal container with self-closing lid to reduce the chance of fire. Restaurants that perform laundry on-site must use
equipment approved or capable of cleaning grease-contaminated cloths. Residential laundry equipment is not approved for this
type of cleaning and can result in a fire.

Commercial-Grade Appliances

All commercial cooking appliances must be listed and approved for use. Commercial-grade cooking appliances have been
designed, tested and approved for rigorous use in a commercial kitchen and will help reduce the risk of fire from the appliance
breaking down or malfunctioning.

Appliances not approved for commercial restaurants include:
• Residential ranges, stoves, smokers and other equipment
• Meat smokers marked as “outdoor use only” being used inside the restaurant

Summary

This is a high-level overview of essentials to help safeguard your restaurant or bar from a fire. Find more resources to proactively
protect your business at societyinsurance.com.