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On The Road With IKECA: Reporting NFPA 96 Noncompliant Exhaust Systems to AHJs

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nfpa 96 noncompliant exhaust systems

As a knowledgeable IKECA Member, one of the best ways to strengthen your company’s relationship with local AHJs is to report any NFPA 96 noncompliant exhaust systems you come across. Below is an excerpt from page 12 of the IKECA Journal.

The Client

This client was a restaurant and property owner who had bought the property about 10 years ago. It is a wooden structure building with three floors: a restaurant on the first and rentals, both offices and tenants, on the other floors. The kitchen was an attached single story with rooftop exhaust. His staff only cleaned the hood and filters. He was forced to have his hood professionally cleaned by the local AHJ. During the clean, the hood techs noticed that their magnetic scraper did not attach to the ductwork. Of course, magnets do not stick to wood; in this case, wooden particle board was used for the entire duct run from the hood to the fan. Because the wooden ductwork could not be welded to the top of the hood, an investigation found a few inches of grease on the top of the hood where it leaked out but could not be seen without pulling ceiling tiles in the adjacent room.

Ductwork Made Of Wood
The wooden ductwork

The Action

We viewed this as very serious. Besides noting the violation of duct construction on the after-service report, the technicians also wrote on the hood label, “URGENT – SEE AFTER-SERVICE REPORT.” The next morning, I called and discussed the finding with the AHJ, who agreed to wait and see what actions the customer would take. A few calls to the client resulted in no returned calls. Two weeks later, upon return for reinspection, the AHJ saw the label, which called attention to the report; read the report; and required the customer to immediately upgrade the ductwork.

The Solution

The customer called me later that day and stated that he had no idea the ductwork was made of wood and asked for assistance and referrals to get it fixed. A call back to the AHJ informed him of the customer’s planned actions, and the AHJ was pleased as to how this issue worked itself out. The AHJ forcing the professional inspection and cleaning of the system was the driving force behind discovering the unknown wooden ductwork that was coated with and had absorbed grease for years. Our taking special communication actions to insure the AHJ knew about the problem helped in its being corrected. If that AHJ has to make a recommendation for a KEC company, who do you think he might recommend?

Learn how to talk to your local AHJs about noncompliant kitchen exhaust systems by reading page 12 of the IKECA Journal here.

Safety Precautions To Take When Using A Deep Fat Fryer

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In an effort to keep you informed, IKECA wants to provide you with grease fire safety tips for using deep fat fryers.

Deep fat fryers are common appliances found in commercial kitchens. They’re used to ensure that foods like French fries, potato chips, and fried chicken are cooked to a proper temperature. Deep-frying food shortens cooking times and even destroys lingering traces of bacteria. However, due to both high temperatures and grease splashes, the chances of starting a grease fire when using a deep fryer rapidly increase.

The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA) has several tips for minimizing the risk of a grease fire when using a deep fryer:

  1. Have a kitchen fire extinguisher nearby and keep kitchen appliances that have an open flame at least 16 inches away from the deep fryer.
  2. Do not let any source of water be close to the deep fryer.
  3. Before filling the deep fryer with cooking oil, make sure that the appliance is turned off and wiped dry.
  4. Do not overcrowd the frying basket. This causes grease to splatter.
  5. Never leave the fryer unattended. If food is cooked even a few minutes too long in a deep fryer, a fire will likely occur.
  6. Never use plastic tools to take food out of the oil because the plastic will melt.
  7. After you have finished using the deep fryer, unplug it to allow the oil to cool.
  8. Wait at least two hours after unplugging the deep fryer to clean it.
  9. If you want to reuse the cooking oil, strain it, store it in a sealed container, and refrigerate it for up to 3 months. Discard it if it has a foul odor or starts to foam.
  10. Never pour oil down a sink because it will congeal and cause backups.

IKECA wants to make sure that you remain aware of how to keep safe during a grease fire. To read all of the safety tips from USDA, click here.

Restaurant Safety Tips on Dealing with a Grease Fire.

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Even if you have taken every precaution necessary for minimizing fire hazards in your restaurant, you should still be prepared for the unexpected. Restaurant fire safety is important for everyone who goes in and out of the building – including owners, employees, and patrons.

All employees should be trained on how to both prevent and extinguish a grease fire. Below are the fire prevention guidelines given by the National Restaurant Association.

Fire Prevention:

  1. Install an automatic fire-suppression system in the kitchen.
    • These systems have an easy-to-use manual switch that releases fire-suppressing chemicals and should be inspected twice a year.
  2. Keep portable fire extinguishers around the kitchen.
    • Class K extinguishers are used for grease fires, but Class ABC extinguishers should also be kept for other types of kitchen fires (electric, wood, etc.)
  3. Schedule regular maintenance of electrical equipment.
    • Frayed wiring and broken switch plates are hard to spot.
  4. Have your exhaust system cleaned regularly.
    • Locate a trained, qualified, and certified IKECA kitchen exhaust cleaner today.

Train Staff to:

  1. Find and use a fire extinguisher.
    • Use the acronym PAST (pull out the pin, aim at the base, make a sweeping motion, (be) ten feet away).
  2. Clean up the grease.
    • Keep exhaust hoods, walls, and work surfaces clear.
  3. Never throw water on a grease fire.
    • Water will cause the fire to expand into a full-on explosion.
  4. Make sure that cigarettes are put out before being thrown away.
    • And never smoke near storage areas
  5. Store flammable liquids properly.
    • Store containers in well-ventilated areas away from food-preparation areas.
  6. Use chemical solutions correctly.
    • Never mix chemicals unless the directions say to do so. Promptly clean up any spills.
  7. Have an emergency plan.
    • Have a set plan in place for the steps your staff should take in a fire emergency and how customers will be safely led out of the building.
  8. Be prepared to power down.
    • Make sure that at least one employee per shift knows how to shut off gas and electricity.
  9. Have an evacuation plan.
    • Designate one employee as the evacuation manager who is in charge of calling 911 and guiding the evacuation plan
  10. Know where the emergency exits are located.
    • Everyone should know the closest exits to their immediate location. Keep in mind that the front door is also an emergency exit.

Be sure to offer additional emergency training courses to staff in order to make sure that everyone working at your restaurant is prepared for a sudden grease fire.

Always remember that the very first thing to do in the event of a fire emergency is to call 911.

Attention Restaurant Owners Part 2: How to Judge if Your Exhaust System is Properly Cleaned.

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Making sure that a kitchen exhaust system is cleaned regularly is the first step to preventing an unexpected grease fire. Many restaurant owners wonder how often they should be assessing their exhaust systems. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has the following set of guidelines:



If your exhaust system is not properly maintained, then you are exposing your business to a potential fire hazard. In fact, most kitchen grease fires spread rapidly because the flames will flare up from a kitchen appliance into a grimy, neglected exhaust system full of built-up grease.

Invest in the safety you kitchen equipment today by scheduling regular cleaning with an IKECA Certified Professional.

Attention Restaurant Owners – Part 1: The Importance of Grease Filters

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Most people think of grease as a liquid, but grease can travel by vapors and smoke. If the exhaust effluent is properly filtered, a large percentage of the grease is
removed from the airstream greatly reducing the amount of grease that will stick to the inside of the kitchen exhaust system and reduce the risk of a grease duct fire.

Therefore, grease filters are considered one of the first lines of defense for restaurant safety, especially because grease is so highly flammable. Replacing and maintaining a restaurant’s grease filters is an important step in reducing the risk of kitchen grease fires.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 96  is the standard for ventilation control and fire protection of commercial cooking operations. Here are some of their fire safety codes described in NFPA Code 96, specifically for grease filters, or ‘Grease Removal Devices.’

NFPA 96 Fire Codes for Hood Grease Filters for Grease Removal Devices:

1 – Listed grease filters, listed baffles, or other listed grease removal devices for use with commercial cooking equipment shall be provided.

2 – Listed grease filters and grease removal devices that are removable but not an integral component of a specifically listed exhaust hood shall be listed in accordance with UL 1046.

3 – Mesh filters shall not be used unless evaluated as an integral part of a listed exhaust hood or listed in conjunction with a primary filter in accordance with UL 1046.

4 – Grease filters shall be listed and constructed of steel or listed equivalent material.

5 – Grease filters shall be of rigid construction that will not distort or crush under normal operation, handling, and cleaning conditions.

6 – Grease filters shall be arranged so that all exhaust air passes through the grease filters.

7 – Grease filters shall be easily accessible and removable for cleaning.

8 – Grease filters shall be installed at an angle not less than 45 degrees from the horizontal.

Invest in the safety of the restaurant and commercial kitchen equipment by scheduling regular cleaning by an IKECA Certified Professional. Keeping a restaurant in compliance of NFPA 96 codes regarding fire safety can help prevent unnecessary damage to equipment and avoid fire risks.

Fire Prevention 101: The Restaurant Fire Safety Basics

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Fire Safety Basics

Source : National Restaurant Association

In many cases, fires in these types of occupancies have several common factors that can contribute to an increased risk to firefighters during suppression operations.

These fires often originate after normal business hours and after staff has left the building, typically between midnight and 4 a.m. The fires are frequently reported by passers-by. Both of these factors contribute to an extended burn time proceeding firefighters’ arrival.

These occupancies are constructed with lightweight trusses that span large areas (the dining area) and which are prone to early failure from fire impingement. These lightweight trusses are no longer solely constructed using metal; many of these structures now have lightweight wood trusses holding up the roof.

Those lightweight trusses are supporting not only the weight of the roof assembly, but also heavy HVAC units and commercial ventilator fans that service the kitchen. False parapet walls shield this equipment from the public’s and the responding firefighters’ view (particularly in the poor light of the early morning hours).

Preventative Maintenance: Fire Safety Basics

Install an automatic fire-suppression system in the kitchen. This is crucial because 57% of restaurant fires involve cooking equipment. These systems automatically dispense chemicals to suppress the flames and also have a manual switch. Activating the system automatically shuts down the fuel or electric supply to nearby cooking equipment. Have your fire-suppression system professionally inspected semiannually. The manufacturer can refer you to an authorized distributor for inspection and maintenance.

Keep portable fire extinguishers as a backup. You’ll need Class K extinguishers for kitchen fires involving grease, fats and oils that burn at high temperatures. Class K fire extinguishers are only intended to be used after the activation of a built-in hood suppression system. Keep Class ABC extinguishers elsewhere for all other fires (paper, wood, plastic, electrical, etc.).

Schedule regular maintenance on electrical equipment, and watch for hazards like frayed cords or wiring, cracked or broken switch plates and combustible items near power sources.

• Have your exhaust system inspected for grease buildup. The NFPA Fire Code calls for quarterly inspections of systems in high-volume operations and semiannual inspections in moderate-volume operations. Monthly inspections are required for exhaust systems serving solid-fuel cooking equipment, like wood- or charcoal-burning ovens.

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Historical Consequences of Poor Kitchen Exhaust Maintenance in Boston, MA

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Source :

In August of 2007, a fire in West Roxbury took the lives of two Boston City Fire Fighters. The fire ignited in the kitchen and spread into the kitchen exhaust system, where it burned in the duct work for over an hour. The resulting investigation revealed serious deficiencies in the kitchen exhaust system, and a failure to properly clean and maintain the system.

Download Now : The Deadly Consequences of Poor Kitchen Exhaust Maintenance

Download Now : Boston Releases Final Report on 2007 Fire

Five Year Anniversary Article

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