The Fire Stops Here
It doesn’t take a lot to start a potentially devastating commercial kitchen grease fire. Considering the large quantity of food the average restaurant cooks, the accumulation of grease on kitchen appliance hoods and in exhaust systems can lead to disaster.
Your restaurant already has certain procedures in place to lessen the chance a grease fire will occur. You know your employees should make sure pots and pans on stoves have the handles turned inward in order to keep overturned liquids from being ignited by the burners. Your employees already know to keep their shirtsleeves fitting snugly to avoid being caught on fire by open flames. And you have trained your employees on the proper use of fire extinguishers.
But you may be ignoring one of the most common sources of commercial kitchen grease fires – the kitchen ventilation exhaust system.
Many local and state ordinances require commercial kitchens to maintain clean appliance hoods and exhaust systems that meet the code standards set by NFPA 96. While a clean kitchen appliance hood can help you avoid a commercial kitchen grease fire, it is not enough to keep it clean on a regular basis. If grease and residue are not removed from other areas of your kitchen ventilation exhaust system regularly as well, you have an extremely flammable situation. A mere spark or an open flame in the wrong place can ignite the entire cooking area of the kitchen. Greasy residue that is allowed to accumulate can potentially result in the loss of not only your restaurant, but the lives of those inside.
While you need to be vigilant in making sure your hoods and exhaust system remain clean, grease residue buildup can be overlooked by the untrained eye. There are several companies that will inspect your commercial kitchen equipment and make a detailed list of what needs to be cleaned or corrected to keep your system compliant. They will also check your ceilings, walls and floors to make sure they are clear of buildup as well.
Regular inspections and exhaust hood cleanings must be performed to prevent grease fires. The exhaust system is not truly safe until it is cleaned down to the bare metal. This kind of job is best left to a professional, one who can thoroughly cleanse the entire system, from the access panels, to the fans, to the ductwork and even the grease box.
A commercial kitchen ventilation system also must have fans that are properly engineered to draw contaminants such as grease and smoke into the hood. If this does not take place, grease can accumulate throughout the kitchen and increase fire danger. So you should also have your system checked to make sure it is in proper working order so that you face as little risk of a grease fire as possible. If it is not, then you need to seriously consider modifying or replacing the entire system. That will be costly, but when you weigh the cost with the risk your present system may be posing to your restaurant, you will likely realize that your restaurant’s safety is worth the expense.