Restaurant Kitchen Fires Cost Millions

Fires in restaurant kitchens cost millions of dollars, risk lives and cost tens of thousands of jobs. Restaurant kitchen fires are preventable. Radiant heat and thermal energy created by the appliances in the restaurant kitchen is removed by the commercial kitchen ventilation system. Beyond the initial design, construction and installation, these systems require continuous maintenance in varying degrees. Regrettably, restaurant kitchen fires burn buildings down, whether because of poor installation, shoddy upkeep or inadequate maintenance. Why?

Many engineers and architects see these systems for their air movement properties and not as fire control devices. Installers likewise, ignore the primary principle of “clearance to combustibles.” Those requirements keep the exhaust system either at proper distance from or insulated from wooden (combustible) structures. Failure to keep proper clearances allows radiant heat from a grease fire in the duct to radiate out and ignite wood, subsequently burning the building down.

Lastly, proper maintenance of the exhaust system is often overlooked.

The grease vapors given off during the cooking operation of nearly all food will accumulate on the hood, duct and fan of the exhaust system. This grease residue is combustible at approximately 700°F. The heat within a flare-up on appliances can easily reach 2,000°F. If the flames linger long enough on the internal grease buildup it will ignite, creating an uncontrolled burn that can quickly be pulled through the entire length of the duct. These residues must be removed on a regular basis, before they constitute a fire hazard. For a number of reasons this cleaning is not taking place.

What is the Answer?

Fortunately, all of these conditions can be prevented through education and understanding of the situation. Building and Fire Inspectors are in the best possible position to ensure that all the components of the commercial kitchen ventilation system are installed and maintained along established guideline. Through education, building and fire inspectors become aware of many of the issues surrounding these systems and can make objective decisions on what is required to keep them fire safe.

Phil Ackland is an icon in the field of commercial kitchen safety education, particularly restaurant kitchen fires.

He sits on the NFPA 96 committee, has been a qualified expert witness and consultant to attorneys and insurance companies. He has written a series of books on these systems. Two of the most popular being Inspecting Commercial Kitchen Systems and Fire Investigation in Commercial Kitchen Systems. expired domains . His one and two day training seminars has been attended by 1000’s of fire inspectors and fire investigators.  Read more about Phil Ackland’s Courses here…

Questions? Contact Ackland and Sander Consulting toll-free at 1.888.537.4878

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