Hello – Happy Friday! Today’s post comes to you from Jacqueline Wilmot, Fire Protection Engineer in the Fire Protection Systems Department, at NFPA. Special thanks to Jacqueline for her contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many important subjects addressed in the Fire Code.
In a 2012 reported titled “Structure Fires in Eating and Drinking Establishments” by Ben Evarts, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 7, 640 structure fires per year in eating and drinking establishments between 2006 and 2010. These fires caused an average annual loss of two civilian deaths, 115 civilian injuries and $246 million in direct property damage. Provided with this information, it’s no wonder why fire protection is at the top of the menu for many people in the restaurant industry.
Section 50.5 of NFPA 1 extracts material from NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations, which is a standard that provides preventative and operative minimum fire safety requirements related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. More specifically, NFPA 96 provides users with the requirements for exhaust systems, clearance requirements, construction materials for hoods, types of fire extinguishing equipment, routine cleaning, employee training, solid fuel cooking, and the inspection, testing, and maintenance of the equipment in the facility.
Since 1 in every 5 of the fires cited in Evart’s report had a failure to clean as a factor contributing to its ignition, we will close in on Chapter 50.5 of NFPA 1 which provides the minimum requirements for the procedures for the use, inspection, testing, and maintenance of equipment.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the ITM of cooking equipment occurs in the frequency of which exhaust systems need to be inspected and/or cleaned.
Section 50.5.4 requires the entire exhaust system to be inspected for grease buildup by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the AHJ and in accordance with Table 50.5.4.
Unfortunately many people make the mistake of interchanging the word “inspected” for “cleaned”.
Section 18.104.22.168 delineates between the inspection frequency and when cleaning is required. It states that if upon inspection, the exhaust system is found to be contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors, the contaminated portions of the exhaust systems shall be cleaned by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the AHJ. This requirement delineates between the inspection frequency and when cleaning is required.
How do you know if your exhaust system is contaminated with deposits from grease?
The methods of measurement is a depth gauge comb, which is scraped along the duct surface and for example, a measured depth of 0.078 inches indicates the need to remove the deposition risk.
Who is a “trained” “qualified”, and “certified” person?
The definition of “certified” simply specifies that it is a stated recognition and approval that the person has demonstrated an acceptable level of competency. The level of competency that is demonstrated is typically specified by a third-party certifier. While a person might be certified, it is left to the AHJ to determine the acceptability of the certification.
Thank you for reading. Happy Friday, stay safe!