Few regulatory codes in the restaurant industry are as significant as the National Fire Prevention Association’s code 96. The fire marshals’ standard code for inspecting commercial cooking operations is NFPA 96, and one of the essential components of the regulation is how the ventilation system is cleaned and maintained. It’s critical to realize that following these fire standards is just as crucial to your organization as keeping the lights on.
NFPA 96 is a cleanliness standard for commercial kitchen range hood and grease hood cleaning. The NFPA 96 guidelines for restaurant hood cleaning exclusively emphasize the importance of expert grease removal regularly. It also includes a checklist that identifies other locations that should be cleaned and inspected by a professional.
What NFPA 96 Requires
The exhaust system of a commercial kitchen must be inspected and cleaned by a properly trained and qualified team or organization, according to NFPA 96 guidelines. The hood system must be cleaned if the inspection reveals a buildup of more than 50 microns of grease-laden fumes in the kitchen hood. The kitchen hood, filters, fans, fire suppression system, light covers, ducts, grease removal devices, and any metal surfaces are all part of the system, according to NFPA 96.
Both federal certification requirements and state licensure requirements require health care facilities to properly inspect, test and maintain the exhaust hoods, filters, and fire-extinguishing equipment protecting their commercial kitchen cooking equipment to ensure that they operate properly when needed do not trip unnecessarily.
What is the NFPA 96 Standard?
The industry standard for commercial kitchen exhaust system cleanliness and maintenance is NFPA 96. Cooking equipment vaporizes oil, which freezes inside the ventilation ducts over time, posing an unavoidable fire threat. The NFPA 96 standard specifies how often a qualified professional should clean your vent hood system, as well as the sections that must be cleaned.
“If the exhaust system is contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors during an inspection, the contaminated portions shall be cleaned by a properly trained, qualified, and certified company or person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction,” according to NFPA 11.6.1.
“Combustible contaminants shall be removed from hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances before surfaces being substantially polluted with grease or oily sludge,” according to NFPA 11.6.2.
The Importance of NFPA 96
NFPA 96’s overarching purpose is to limit the possibility for culinary activities to cause fires, regardless of the type of cooking equipment utilized or whether it is used in public or private facilities. Once consumers understand the purpose of NFPA 96, it becomes evident that the type of cooking device does not determine whether or not an exhaust or extinguishment system is necessary, as both judgments are based on whether or not the cooking process produces grease-laden fumes.
According to the United States Fire Administration, cooking was the top cause of restaurant fires from 2011 to 2013, accounting for more than half of all reported restaurant fires. Grease is most common in poorly maintained kitchen exhaust systems, which are clogged with grease inside the ductwork. Grease residue builds up inside the hood, ducting, and exhaust fan when your cooking equipment isn’t properly cleaned, posing a fire threat. If a fire breaks out, all of these grease deposits cause the fire to spread to all of these areas of the building, causing far more damage.
Scheduling Professional Cleaning
The frequency with which you should clean your system is determined by the type of cooking operation your company or organization performs and how frequently you use those appliances.
The minimal guidelines for how often your kitchen exhaust system should be professionally cleaned dependent on cooking volume are listed below from NFPA Code 96:
Monthly: Solid fuel operations are served by systems.
Quarterly: Cooking systems for high-volume kitchens
Semi-Annually: Cooking operations with a moderate amount of production can benefit from these systems.
Annually: Low-volume cooking operations are served by these systems. Churches, elderly centers, and seasonal enterprises are examples.
The restaurant manager or a BOH manager is personally responsible for cleaning and maintaining the kitchen hoods. According to the NFPA 96 standard, the following points are crucial.
- The fire suppression and ventilation systems must be maintained per the NFPA 96 requirements.
- Your commercial kitchen equipment must be complemented by a proper ventilation system that complies with the NFPA 96 standards.
- You must also ensure that the entire cosmetics system is in good working order.
- A certified, professionally-trained company/individual must undertake the maintenance and cleaning of your commercial kitchen. Cleaning and certifying your system is not something your kitchen staff can do.
- After the cleaning, the cleaning technician must provide a certificate with the date of cleaning, a label with the cleaning contractor’s name and cleaning date, and a list of the areas that were not cleaned during the process.
- During the cleaning, a trained and certified company will not use cleaning chemicals on the fusible links.
- Before the cleaning begins, all power switches that are at risk of automatic activation must be locked out.
- According to NFPA 96, the fire suppression system must be operational throughout the procedure.
- Once the cleaning has been completed by a professionally trained team/individual, double-check that all power switches, pilot lights, and other major system components are operational.
- The type of food and fuel you use in the kitchen will determine your cleaning schedule. The majority of restaurants will operate on a 90-day schedule.
You can ensure the safety of your facility, equipment, and employees by following and maintaining a proper cleaning schedule. You’ll never fail an inspection or risk being shut down due to an unsafe kitchen exhaust system if you follow the NFPA code 96 standards. This procedure entails:
- Arrange for your vent hood to be cleaned.
- Informing your employees about upcoming cleaning appointments
- Ensuring that the cleaning is carried out following NFPA 96 guidelines.
- Providing detailed cleaning reports with a list of any replacements.
- Planning your next cleaning according to the NFPA 96 guidelines.
- For all of your locations, you’ll receive a single invoice.
Commercial kitchens are obliged to utilize UL-listed hood filters. When purchasing filters, the description should specify whether or not they are. Any filters that don’t mention it, should be avoided. If they are, it means they are Fire Code approved and meet the requirements of your insurance company’s commercial kitchen hood code.
Look for a UL or ETL logo stamped into the frame on the edge of your existing filters to see if they are Fire Code approved. If the product does not have a UL or ETL stamp, it should be replaced.
The NFPA 96 standard is in place to keep you safe. Maintaining a clean and well-maintained commercial kitchen hood not only protects your personnel and your entire facility from fire threats but also lowers the risk of personal liability in the case of a fire or suppression event.