Restaurants, hotels, schools and other buildings such as care homes that house a commercial kitchen are regarded as high-hazard. Fire suppression systems are being specified more often by insurance companies as they recognise that a kitchen in a building is one of the major risks to a fire/disaster and a potential large claim.
However, there is a lot that can go wrong and fire suppression systems need to be installed to suit the equipment it’s protecting, and maintained correctly. Here is a list of the top 10 fire safety issues we come across with fire suppression systems, and why they’re so important:
1) The system is not installed or maintained by an approved agent of the manufacturer
Kitchen fire suppression systems need to be installed and maintained by an approved, appropriately qualified company. Ansul, one of the leading manufacturers of fire suppression systems, impose high standards to achieve before certifying companies as approved installers and system designers. Comprehensive engineer training, in-depth suppression system design courses, and standards to meet to certify and approve each new installation are just some of the procedures that have to be met by approved fire safety companies. Fire suppression systems and installation companies should also manufacture, install and maintain to LPS 1223 standard. Fire suppression systems not installed and maintained by an approved contractor may invalidate your buildings’ insurance policy.
2) Nozzle covers missing
Airborne grease can clog the hole of a nozzle when they’re not kept covered. This may impede or prevent the extinguishing system operating correctly.
3) Nozzles not aimed properly
Nozzles of the extinguishing system need to be aimed properly to deposit the extinguishing chemicals on the source of the fire, otherwise the system will be less effective.
4) Combustible construction within 18 inches of hood not protected with mineral wool pad (or equivalent)
Combustible materials within 18 inches of the kitchen hood may aid in the spread of fire. A barrier of an incombustible material creates a break in the fire’s path.
5) Filter panels incorrectly installed
Filter panels are designed specifically to collect grease. If the panels aren’t properly installed, the amount of grease they are able to collect may be reduced causing more accumulation on the hood. This can in turn increase the risk of fire.
6) Hood or suppression system does not cover all appliances
Kitchen additions or modifications can result in a suppression system not adequately covering all fire risks. If a fire occurs in or on an appliance that is not covered by the hood or suppression system, it cannot be adequately controlled by the system.
7) Inadequate cleaning cycle
Hood and vent systems should be kept clean to avoid accumulation of grease and reduce the threat of a serious fire. Adequate cleaning schedules for kitchen suppression systems can vary greatly from one kitchen to the next. A full service restaurant using multiple fryers or woks may need to be cleaned monthly, while a low-volume kitchen like that in a care home only requires cleaning annually. The important point is to ensure the cleaning schedule matches the volume usage of the kitchen.
8) Lights not covered with explosion-proof covers
Explosion-proof lights are generally required in areas involving high heat or high risk of fire or explosion. Not having explosion-proof covers can significantly increase the risk of fire in these areas.
9) Fire suppression system tags out of date
When a kitchen or restaurant suppression system is serviced, a tag should be left by the servicing company indicating the service date. An out-of-date tag indicates that the system is not being serviced regularly. Having your fire suppression system maintained is of paramount importance to ensure it is working correctly and will be effective in the event of a fire.
10) No, or inadequate, separation between open flame appliances and fryers
Without adequate separation, oil can splash into open flames, causing a fire risk. Suitable separation can be achieved by either placing a 16 inch gap between the appliances, or a 16 inch vertical, non-combustible (metal) divider.
Further questions about fire suppression systems? Why not download our FREE Fire Suppression Guide which details the different types of fire suppression available, the different types of detection available and what standards and regulations you need to comply with. Or contact our fire suppression specialists on 0845 402 3045.