A fire can devastate your business, leading to lost revenue and even permanent closure. October is fire prevention month, the NFPA designates this month to raise awareness to help prevent fire and life devastation. Restaurants are susceptible with their open flames, hot equipment, electrical connections, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper products. Restaurants contain all the ingredients for a fire to flame out of control. According to 2010-2014 data tabulated by the NFPA, an estimated 7,410 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments were reported to U.S. fire departments each year. Restaurant fires caused an annual average of $165 million in direct property damage.
Restaurant fire prevention is especially important to people and businesses who dedicate their occupations to fire prevention. Hood and duct cleaning companies and their teams are in the brotherhood of life and property protectors. Omni Containment Systems was an early pioneer in the industry of grease containment. Our patents were innovated for the kitchen exhaust cleaning industry. To date, we hold six patents all related to the management of fats, oils, and grease. Omni Containment Systems protects over 20,000 restaurants and food processing facilities around the world. Our experience and expertise have shown us that restaurant fire safety should be at the top of the menu for many facility professionals! We want to help protect your life and property from the risks of fire, so here are 5 ways to boost your restaurant’s fire safety program.
Schedule Regular Hood Cleanings
Hood cleaning maintenance is the number one prevention your commercial kitchen has against fire. Regardless of this fact, some restaurants make the decision to decline service or postpone cleanings! This is extremely dangerous and leaves the restaurant in non-compliance with NFPA 96 standards. A common question is, “How often should my ducts be cleaned or inspected and by who?” The frequency of inspecting your exhaust system depends on your cooking operation’s volume of cooking. Higher cooking volume means higher grease buildup and more frequent duct cleanings and inspections.
Refer to the NFPA 96 Table 11.4 below:
Kitchen staff and facility managers should be aware of the grease buildup in their kitchen exhaust ducts. So, how do you know what your current grease load is within your system? Your local authority having jurisdiction, or AHJ, can come onto the premises to determine how your fire, life, and electrical safety programs are doing. If you would like to check the grease load within the system more frequently, consider purchasing the Grease Comb to make it easy. If you have an established kitchen exhaust cleaner, they can also check your system for grease buildup. If you are not aware of your last cleaning, check your hood. A sticker should be located on the hood stating the last cleaning.
When you hire a kitchen exhaust cleaner, they should remove all the fire fuel (grease buildup) from the kitchen exhaust hood and ductwork. Grease is an extremely flammable substance, so, if left unchecked, it can build up in your system and cause a grease fire in the future. Establish a maintenance program with your kitchen exhaust cleaner to receive their services regularly. Be sure to ask them how they keep your establishment safe, clean, and compliant.
Clean Your Hood Filters
Baffle grease filters collect grease and stop flames from penetrating into the hood exhaust ductwork. They are designed to prevent flames from passing through and can withstand high temperatures. Your restaurant staff should practice efficient grease removal from these filters to lower the risk of flare-ups. The best practice is to clean your baffle hood filters daily. Cleaning exhaust hoods is especially important since grease buildup can restrict airflow. The Tegras Filnet Ultrasonic can achieve hood filter cleaning in minutes. It can also be used for any kitchen equipment that needs cleaning, like frying pans, trays, pots, frying baskets, grills, and burners. The ultrasonic technology can clean filters and kitchen tools faster than any other soak tank.
Install Access Panels
Access doors, or access panels, are a vital component of the restaurant hood and duct exhaust system. When you hire a professional kitchen exhaust cleaner to perform this job, it is vital that they remove all the fire fuel (grease buildup) from the kitchen exhaust hood and ductwork. Access doors allow kitchen exhaust cleaners to reach all the areas of the ductwork. If a particular spot in the system cannot be reached easily, it most likely will be left uncleaned; it’s that simple. That is why the NFPA 96 standard requires an access door for at least every 12 feet of duct and at every change of direction. If you need additional access doors, Omni’s Access Armor Door has become the go-to access door solution for hood cleaning companies across the nation. Don’t take our word for it; ask anyone who has installed one!
Fan Hinging Options
A complete kitchen exhaust cleaning will include grease removal from the kitchen hood up to the rooftop. Kitchen exhaust cleaners will need to clean the upblast fan on your commercial rooftop during the cleaning. Hinges are necessary for the safety of kitchen exhaust cleaners. These rooftop upblast exhaust fans can weigh anywhere from 50 pounds to a few hundred pounds. If there is no hinge kit, the fan must be lifted off the curb and placed on the rooftop for cleaning, potentially leading to fan and roof damage.
The NFPA 96 standard outlines safety standards for upblast fans. The standard reads: “126.96.36.199 Rooftop termination shall be arranged with or provided with the following: (8) A hinged upblast fan supplied with flexible weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainer to permit inspection and cleaning that is listed for commercial cooking equipment.”
Our patented Super Hinge is the only NFPA 96 compliant hinge on the market. We offer different sizes to provide fans of varying lengths the proper amount of coverage. Hinges should span across at least 60% of the fan base to be considered safe enough for service personnel to clean. This is not an NFPA 96 requirement; 60% is what Omni Containment Systems has found to be the best and safest length.
Have Proper Grease Containment
It is not necessary and is unrealistic to try to clean your kitchen exhaust system every day or week to remove the excess grease. That is why having a grease containment system in place for between kitchen exhaust cleanings is imperative to the safety of your establishment.
NFPA 96 codes states, “188.8.131.52 Rooftop termination shall be arranged with or provided with the following: (4) The ability to drain grease out of any traps or low points formed in the fan or duct near the termination of the system into a collection container that is noncombustible, closed, rainproof, and structurally sound for the service to which it is applied and that will not sustain combustion.”
When you have a proper grease containment system in place, it catches the excess grease that travels from your hood up the ductwork and onto your rooftop. Most restaurants are equipped with a grease catch, but these standard grease catches are too small to handle the grease output. With an upgraded grease containment system and regularly scheduled maintenance, your roof will have significantly decreased fire risk.
October may officially be Fire Prevention Month, but in the restaurant and hood cleaning industries, EVERY month is fire prevention month. Since 1 in every 5 restaurant fires start because of a failure to clean properly, cleaning is the easy and obvious solution to mitigate fire risks. When you educate the people in your sphere of influence to understand the risks of fire and how to prevent them, you protect more than just a building from the devastation of fire; you’re protecting people’s lives. If you have any questions regarding Omni Containment System’s products, contact us today. We would be happy to educate you on our life-saving equipment.