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Top 10 Commercial Kitchen Fire Safety Issues

May 7, 2013
Loss Control Inspections

Photo by: Kristen Skinner, Field Representative

Restaurants are very common high-hazard occupancies. There is a lot that can go wrong. This is why we pay particular attention to equipment safety features and the kitchen environment during our inspections. Here is a list of the top 10 fire safety issues we come across and why they’re so important:

1.) The system is not UL300 Listed. A common cause for this is the presence of a dry chemical extinguishing system. With the widespread transition from animal fat to vegetable oil use in deep fat fryers, dry chemical systems are no longer able to control the higher temperature, longer burning fires produced by vegetable oils. A UL300 Listed system is specifically designed to handle these intense fires, contain them longer, and prevent splashing of hot oil during the fire.

2.) Nozzle covers missing. When the nozzles of an extinguishing system are not kept covered, airborne grease can clog the hole. This may impede or prevent operation of the extinguishing system.

3.) Nozzles not aimed properly. If a nozzle is not properly aimed to deposit the extinguishing chemicals on the source of the fire, it will be less effective.

4.) Combustible construction within 18 inches of hood not protected with mineral wool pad (or equivalent). Combustible materials within 18 inches of the kitchen hood may aid in the spread of fire. Incombustible materials provide a barrier that creates a break in the fire’s path.

5.) Filter panels installed wrong. Filter panels are specifically designed to collect grease. If they aren’t properly installed, the amount of grease they are able to collect may be reduced causing more accumulation on the hood.

6.) Hood or suppression system does not cover all appliances. If a fire occurs in or on an appliance that is not covered by the hood or suppression system, it cannot be adequately controlled by the system.

7.) Inadequate cleaning cycle. Hood and vent systems that are not kept clean can accumulate grease and pose a serious threat of fire. Adequate cleaning schedules vary greatly from one kitchen to the next. A full service restaurant using multiple fryers or woks may need to be cleaned monthly, while a low-volume kitchen like that in a daycare or senior center only requires cleaning annually.

8.) Lights not covered with explosion-proof covers. Explosion-proof lights are generally required in applications involving high heat or high risk of fire or explosion.

9.) Fire suppression system tags out of date. When a kitchen suppression system is serviced, a tag should be left by the servicing company indicating the service date. An out-of-date tag indicates that the system is not being serviced regularly.

10.) No, or inadequate, separation between open flame appliances and fryers. Without adequate separation, oil can splash or splatter into open flames, causing a fire risk. Suitable separation can be achieved by either providing 16 inches between the appliances or a 16 inch vertical, non-combustible (metal) divider.


You may also be interested in Top 10 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Full Sprinkler Credit.

Article by: April LaRita Green

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