Fire code regulations require that you keep your kitchen baffle grease filters clean and in good working order. A thorough cleaning is the only way to ensure hood filters don’t become overly clogged with grease, which can cause the following problems:
- Impaired filtering capabilities
- Smoky air accumulation in the kitchen
- Excessive heat in the kitchen
- Increased air conditioning costs
- Extreme fire hazards
- Exhaust system strain
You may be excited to get your commercial kitchen up and running, but are you sure your setup complies with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 96 fire codes?
If your kitchen burns solid fuel – including mesquite, briquettes, charcoal and hardwood – specific fire codes are in place to help prevent airborne sparks and embers from entering the hood and duct system, which can be a fire hazard. Here’s a look at the three fire codes for kitchens burning solid fuel and how spark arrestor hood filters help you comply.
NFPA 96 Fire Codes for Solid Fuel Cooking Systems
- 14.5.1: Grease removal devices must be constructed of steel or stainless steel. The device must also be approved for use with solid fuel cooking.
- 14.5.2: A spark arrestor hood filter is required if the solid fuel cooking operation generates airborne sparks and embers. This type of filter minimizes the number of sparks and embers that enter the hood and duct system. The filter should be installed so sparks and embers are removed from the air by the mesh screen before passing through the grease removal device.
- 14.5.3: The spark arrestor filter must be installed a minimum of 4 feet (1.2 meters) above the cooking appliance.
Rooftop grease control is vital for your commercial kitchen. No matter what food you serve up or what fuel you cook with, you need to consider a quality rooftop grease containment system. Why is it so important, you might ask? The reasons are many:
- Prevent roof grease damage
- Reduce fire risk
- Protect the environment
- Prevent fat, oil and grease from mixing with storm water runoff
How do you know which grease containment system is right for you? Consider the differences between the Driploc Rack and Grease Gutter. Then, decide for yourself.
Commercial kitchen hoods are not one size fits all. The right equipment for your kitchen will depend on your specific needs. Consider the following before investing in a hood system for your business:
What Will You Be Cooking?
Different menus mean different needs. If you only need to ventilate heat and condensation, Type II hoods could be enough for you. However, grills, fryers and other equipment that release grease and other particulate into the air require more advanced Type I systems.
Gas and electric ovens, pizza cookers, rotisseries and steams fall at the lighter end of the range. Fryers, woks, char-grilling and lava rock grilling will require heavier equipment to clear and cool the air in your kitchen.
The set-up of your kitchen will also dictate the size of your hood. There are single and double canopy models available for kitchens with islands, wall canopy hoods that extend out over a cooking area and other set-ups to fit your kitchen’s unique layout.
What makes the Franklin Filter a worthwhile investment for your commercial kitchen? With the namesake of Benjamin Franklin, this hinged filter’s revolutionary design features several characteristics that enhance hood safety, efficiency and cleanliness.
Benefits of Franklin Hinged Hood Filters
Consider these specific advantages to help you make the right decision when upgrading the filters in your commercial kitchen.
The cleaner your kitchen exhaust duct system, the more effectively you can prevent build-up of grease and debris that can lead to fires. And, how often and how well a system is cleaned is highly dependent on access. By installing a duct access door, you make it easier for professional cleaners to get inside the system for thorough cleaning.
Additionally, proper access to the exhaust duct system is required under NFPA fire codes. NFPA #96 section 1-3.1.3 says: “All interior surfaces of the exhaust system shall be reasonably accessible for cleaning and inspection purposes.”
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the authority on fire, electrical and building safety. The association has established Fire Code #96 with various expectations that restaurants are required to comply with.
Main causes of restaurant fires and the codes that relate to them
Cooking causes 59 percent of restaurant fires. Nearly all of these types of fires are small and contained, resulting in limited damage. Cooking fires may be caused by failure to keep up with exhaust system inspection and cleaning. Hood filters and spark arrestor filters above stoves, deep fat fryers or open fired grills can be fire hazards if not cleaned regularly. Fans and ducts can also collect grease over time. The codes relating to these problems include:
Stains around a grease dumpster aren’t just unsightly; it can put you in violation of EPA clean water laws and local environmental regulations. Under managed dumpster grease can degrade pavement, attract rodents and cause unpleasant stains and odors. It can also cause an unsafe walking surface, exposing you to slip and fall liabilities. Read on to learn how to manage grease around your restaurant’s dumpsters and keep yourself in compliance with local law:
Easily Remove Grease
Grease stains can be stubborn and difficult to remove. The usual grease dumpster cleaning method of washing grease down into sewers can put you in violation of EPA regulations. It is also considered a pollutant and disposing of it improperly can result in costly fines.
Your hood filters are the first line of defense in your kitchen exhaust system. They keep grease and debris from entering the ventilation system to maintain environmental quality and reduce the risk of fires. But, to do their job well, your exhaust hood filters must be in top working condition.
There is no set schedule for replacing hood filters. The life of a filter will depend on factors that include the type of filter, how well it’s maintained, and the amount of grease, debris and heat it is exposed to. Many busy restaurants need to replace exhaust hood filters every six to eight months. Others are able to go as long as two years between replacements. Different filters have different effective lives. Stainless steel filters last longer than aluminum or galvanized. You will also get longer life from heavy-duty filters vs. standard-duty.
Choosing the right hood grease filter is an essential part of a safe, comfortable and productive commercial kitchen. How do you narrow down the search? The key is to answer two simple questions about your kitchen and cooking techniques:
Does your cooking equipment burn solid fuel?
Mesquite, briquettes, charcoal and hardwood are all examples of solid fuel. If the answer to this question is “yes,” then you need a spark arrestor filter. A spark arrestor is a steel screen mounted to a baffle filter. Its function is to stop flames, embers and sparks from finding their way into the hood exhaust ductwork.
If the answer is “no,” move on to the next question to help you choose the right baffle hood grease filter.