Requirements For Commercial Kitchen Fire Suppression Systems That Help Minimize Fire Risks

Travis Jolliff

When it comes to fire, commercial kitchens operate in a very high-risk environment. According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires in restaurants result in 110 civilian injuries and $165 million in direct property damage each year. Cooking equipment was responsible for more than 60 percent of the fires studied by the NFPA. Many of the affected businesses never recover. The NFPA 96 Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations provides the requirements for commercial kitchen fire suppression systems that help minimize fire risk and keep employees and customers safe if a fire breaks out. The standards cover both automatic fire-extinguishing systems that provide primary protection as well as the portable fire extinguishers that provide secondary backup protection. Wet chemical fire suppression systems are the most common type of automatic fire suppression system used in commercial kitchens today and are recognized by the fire protection industry as the most effective fire suppression system for commercial kitchens available.

Wet Chemical Fire Suppression Systems in Commercial Kitchens

The NFPA 96 requires automated fire suppression equipment for all grease removal devices, hood exhaust plenums, and exhaust duct systems in a commercial kitchen, as well as any cooking equipment that produces grease-laden vapors. Today’s commercial kitchens use high-efficiency cooking appliances capable of extremely high energy input/output rates and vegetable oils that can ignite at high temperatures. When these oils ignite, they are already so hot that a portable extinguisher may not be effective. Wet chemical fire suppression systems are considered to be  the most effective fire suppression system for commercial kitchens available.

Wet chemical systems are often referred to as “pre-engineered” systems, which means that they come from the manufacturer with specific specifications that are unique to that system. As such, their installation, repair and maintenance requires a properly trained and qualified technician that has been certified by the system’s manufacturer.

Wet chemical fire suppression systems work by releasing chemical agents that react with oil to create a thick foam that covers the entire cooking surface, smothering the burning oil until the appliance cools below the oil’s flash point. The effectiveness of these systems is not limited to fires that involve oil. The type of chemicals they use are very effective on all types of fires in a commercial kitchen.

The NFPA 96 requires that wet chemical pre-engineered fire suppression systems meet the requirements of ANSI/UL 300 or other equivalent standards that include fire test methods and requirements to protect the various types of cooking appliances and tests to evaluate the ability of pre-engineered equipment to protect plenums and ducts.

Not all grease removal devices, hood exhaust plenums, exhaust ducts, and cooking appliances are addressed in ANSI/UL 300 or other equivalent test standards. If your kitchen uses equipment that isn’t, you must make sure that any non-listed automatic fire suppression system installed is appropriate for the grease removal devices, hoods, ducts and cooking appliances you’re using based on the system manufacturer’s recommendations. The system must also meet all applicable NFPA standard(s), all local building and fire codes, and must be approved by the authority having jurisdiction. If you’re not sure if your system is UL-Listed, you can search the UL website using the manufacturer’s name and model number.

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Since 1925, we have protected businesses throughout the area from the harms and hazards of fires. Every Jay L Harman technician is licensed and regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office.  Each of these technicians continually receives the most up-to-date factory training and certifications by our manufacturers. Contact Jay L Harman Fire Equipment today. Let our friendly and knowledgeable staff tell you more about our fire suppression systems and help you find the ideal fire suppression system for your needs. Learn more about our full offering of fire extinguisher training, firefighting services, firefighting products, request a quote, ask a question or request additional information.