The Importance of Fire Suppression Systems in Commercial Kitchens

While fire prevention measures are vital for the proper functioning of a commercial kitchen, fire suppression systems are an integral part of their safety.

Anything from human error to faulty equipment could start a fire at the most unexpected moment. That's why fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens deserve special attention.

How do Fire Suppression Systems Work?
A fire needs three things in order to ignite and burn: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Suppression systems are designed to contain, suppress and extinguish them.
As soon as a fire is detected, the nozzles installed above the kitchen appliances discharge wet chemicals. These chemicals cover the flames and remove oxygen. The fire suppressant agent also contains water that cools oils and fats to lower the ignition temperature, thus taking the heat out of the equation. While the system is putting out the fire, it also sends a signal to cut gas supply, depriving the fire of fuel.
The key function of the fire suppression system is to remove fire as quickly as possible without affecting the rest of the appliances. Unlike the sprinkler system that sends water all over the place, the suppression system puts the fire out locally.

The system can work with various chemicals. For example, grease fires, electrical fires, and oil fires require different agents. They can offer cooling, emulsification, and foaming properties. It's important to consult a professional before installing a fire suppression system in your commercial kitchen.

Fire Suppression System Standards and Regulations

While working out a fire prevention and suppression strategy, you should follow national standards and regulations.

UL 300 Standard

The key requirement of the UL 300 standard is to use wet chemicals to fight commercial kitchen fires. Others include installing fire suppression nozzles in hoods, ducts, and over each piece of cooking equipment. The standard requires biannual fire suppression system servicing as well as hood and ductwork cleaning. Baffle filters should be cleaned at least once a week.

NFPA Standards
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 96 standard explains the fire suppression system requirements. It provides standards and guidance about equipment such as exhaust hoods, ductwork, fans, and air dampers. It calls for complying with the UL 300 standard.

The NFPA 17A standard states requirements for wet chemical fire extinguishing systems' design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance.

Regular Fire Suppression System Inspections
Professional fire suppression system inspections should be done at least twice a year. They can help keep the system in top shape. The expert checks such things as:
  • Link lines
  • Nozzle blow caps
  • Pressure gauges
  • The functionality of control components and actuators
  • Piping and copper tubing's tightness
  • Electrical interlocks' functionality
  • Physical damage
  • Maintenance tags and certificates (including test dates for cylinders and regulators)
  • Position of detectors
  • Condition of system cartridges
  • And much more
Between the professional inspector's visits, you should perform the following monthly checks:
Check if nozzles are pointed in the right direction
Remove grease or dirt inside the hood or duct
Make sure all indicators are working
Check the date of the last professional inspection
In case the system goes off to extinguish a fire, it's important to get professional assistance for recharging and resetting it.

Paying special attention to the system's installation can help you avoid serious problems in the future. It must be installed by a certified professional.

Keeping Your Commercial Kitchen Safe

With cooking being the leading cause of non-residential building fires, paying special attention to fire suppression systems is vital. Coupled with regular exhaust maintenance, they can keep the risk of a fire in a commercial kitchen to a minimum