In our May 3rd blog, we talked about the Omni Access Armor access door and the design improvements we have made to make access doors easier and safer to install and use. Now let’s get into why access doors (or access panels as some people refer to them) are necessary components to the hood and duct exhaust system.

The exhaust system at a restaurant draws smoke and impurities from the kitchen/cooking area and vents it to the outside. In the course of performing this job, the hood and duct system and the rooftop fan accumulate fats, oils and grease (FOGs). These contaminants restrict air flow and, more importantly, are a potential fire hazard. Therefore, the entire system must be thoroughly cleaned on a regularly scheduled basis.

Most restaurant owners and general managers hire a professional hood and duct cleaning company to perform this job. It is a difficult and dirty job. Access doors allow the service personnel to reach all areas of the system so the grease and other contaminants are removed right down to the bare metal. If a particular spot in the system can’t 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 also at every change of direction.

It is understandable that restaurant owners and general managers, as well as landlords and property managers, are reluctant to spend money on items that they don’t deem important. Many in these decision making positions are unfamiliar with NFPA standards and why they are important. It is often necessary to educate them as to why safety measures such as access doors are an investment in their property. Besides the fact that access doors decrease the likelihood of a fire, they help to keep the restaurant compliant with NFPA 96 and other local and state codes. In some cases, properly installed access doors may even result in lower insurance premiums. And in the event of a fire, their presence may be a factor with liability determination and insurance claims. Of course, if access doors are installed where they need to be, that fire may not happen in the first place!