The time has come for your restaurant to get its kitchen exhaust system cleaned, so you schedule the certified kitchen exhaust cleaning technicians and when they are finished inspecting your system, they report to you that you need an exhaust fan hinge kit installed on your upblast exhaust fan. Rest assured that you are not alone. Restaurant exhaust fan hinges are one of the most important yet overlooked fan accessories. Exhaust fan hinges are not just required by NFPA Fire Code 96, but they are probably also required by local ordinances and most likely, your insurance company.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mandates exhaust fan hinges for upblast fans to enhance safety. This also ensures easy access for maintenance. Even if you already know that you are required to install exhaust fan hinges and you’ve heard that they are crucial, you still might be wondering exactly why.

The NFPA 96 Code

All kitchen exhaust upblast fans are already equipped with a standard hinge, what you need to know is that the standard hinge does not comply with the NFPA Fire Code 96. Exhaust fan hinges do a very important job and there are many reasons why they are required. So, what exactly does the code state? At Omni Containment Systems, we always defer to the most recent edition which is currently the 2024 edition. Here are the two most common noncompliant fan hinge codes:

NFPA Fire Code #96:

“Rooftop terminations 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 inspect and cleaning that is listed for commercial cooking equipment.” 

NFPA Fire Code #96:

“Approved UpBlast fans with motors surrounded by the airstream shall be hinged, supplied with flexible weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers, and listed for this use.”

One of the best ways to safeguard restaurants against fire is to adopt and follow up-to-date building codes to stay compliant. These codes establish the minimum design and construction requirements to ensure safe structures. We will breakdown the NFPA 96 hinge code to demonstrate the many benefits of installing an NFPA 96 compliant exhaust fan hinge, as you will learn below.

Investment Safety

The main reason to install an NFPA 96 compliant hinge kit is to improve general personnel safety as well as fire safety. When an NFPA 96 compliant hinge is installed with a service hold open retainer, it locks the fan open making it possible to clean, inspect, and maintain the fan safely.

Kitchen exhaust fans can weigh anywhere from 50 pounds to a few hundred pounds. When a fan is not equipped with a hinge kit, the fan must be lifted off the curb and placed on the rooftop. This is dangerous for the kitchen exhaust fan and the service personnel. This can also damage the fan curb. When a fan curb becomes warped, it can cause an air leak, disrupting the fan’s efficiency in drawing out air and smoke from the cooking area.

Some non-compliant fans are fitted with chains or cables that are intended to serve the function of the service hold open retainer. Other variations of hinges are a door-type hinge, these types of hinges are not meant for that kind of load which creates a hazard.

With an Omni hinge installed, you can simply tip the fan back and lock it open. Personnel can safely access the internal areas of the fan. It stays in place and won’t fall back down onto them as they perform their work.

Increase the Longevity of the Fan

Kitchen exhaust cleaners need access to the ductwork that the kitchen exhaust fan is connected to remove the grease build up. To gain access to the ductwork, they will need to either tilt the fan and lock it in place or remove the fan and place it on the rooftop.

Removal of the fan can damage the fan curb, your rooftop, and damage the electrical conduit. Fans have sharp corners and other protruding parts that could gouge the roof, maybe badly enough to require expensive repairs. The fan itself could suffer major damage. To protect your rooftop and increase the longevity of the fan, install a NFPA 96 compliant hinge.

As a restaurant owner, you want to ensure that not only are your customers happy, but that your kitchen exhaust system is running at peak efficiency! Installing a NFPA 96 compliant hinge kit, helps ensure that your system is easily accessible for cleaning and safe to work on! Omni Containment Systems offers two main styles of our Super Hinge in a wide variety of sizes. They accommodate small and typical-sized fans, as well as the largest fans in use today. They adapt to unusual configurations and are the only patented hinges to include the service hold-open retainer required by NFPA 96 code. If you have any questions about which style of hinge kit is right for your kitchen exhaust fan, contact us!