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Which Standards Apply for Commercial Kitchen Fire Suppression?

The standard for fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens are the following:

UL 300: Standard for Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishing Systems for Protection of Commercial Cooking Equipment

NFPA 17A: Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems

NFPA 96: Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations

UL 300 Standard

The UL 300 standard was developed by Underwriters Laboratories in 1994, to establish suitable fire protection requirements for modern commercial kitchen equipment. The foodservice industry was evolving and cooking equipment was being modernized, so fire protection requirements had to be updated accordingly. Although commercial kitchens were becoming more efficient, they were also becoming more dangerous and fires had become more difficult to control.

The main requirement in the UL 300 standard is using wet chemical agents to suppress commercial kitchen fires. Other relevant requirements covered by UL 300 are the following:

  • Installing fire suppression nozzles in hoods and ducts, and over individual cooking equipment.

  • Installing a manual pull station to activate the fire alarm, located inside the kitchen area.

  • Automatic shut-off for the energy source in all appliances, electrical and gas-fired.

  • Fire suppression system inspection and servicing: Twice per year, by a licensed fire protection firm.

  • Hood and ductwork cleaning and maintenance: Twice per year, also by a licensed contractor. Baffle filters must be cleaned each week, or as recommended depending on the type of cooking.

NFPA Standards 17A and 96

The NFPA 17A standard applies for pre-engineered wet chemical fire extinguishing systems, throughout all project stages: design, installation, commissioning, operation, inspection, testing and maintenance. In general, the standard deals with wet chemical systems that use fixed nozzles and release the chemical agent with pressurized gas. The requirements provided are applicable to all wet chemical systems regardless of manufacturer differences, such as component design and the specific chemical agent used.

The NFPA 96 standard provides ventilation control requirements to complement the operation of fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens. The standard covers equipment such as exhaust hoods, ductwork, fans and air dampers. Commercial kitchen ventilation has special requirements due to the presence of cooking ingredient, grease and oil droplets in the air.

Final Recommendations

Commercial kitchen equipment provides efficiency in cooking operations, but it also comes with greater fire risks than a smaller residential kitchen. Fires from cooking oil and fat belong in a class of their own, due to the special requirements of commercial kitchens and the risk of rapid spreading.

Keep in mind that, where there is a commercial kitchen, there is also a crowd of people being served. Meeting safety and hygiene requirements is of utmost importance, and the best recommendation is working with qualified design professionals.

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