Fire Codes Every Restaurant in Kansas City Should Know
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:
- 11.4, 11.6.1 and 11.6.2: These state that a certified exhaust system cleaner must inspect the area regularly for grease buildup. If the area contains oily sludge, it must be cleaned. Removable parts must be cleaned regularly before they become heavily contaminated with grease or oil.
Specific hood filters and spark arrestor filters are required in commercial kitchens. The relevant codes include:
- 6.1, 6.2 and 14.5: Grease filters must be UL-listed and made of steel or another rigid material. Mesh filters aren’t good enough, unless they are used in conjunction with another UL-listed filter. Spark arrestor filters are also required for solid fuel cooking operations to minimize the entrance of sparks and embers into the grease filter.
Electrical malfunctions cause about 8 percent of all restaurant fires. To prevent these, the following fire codes exist:
- 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199 and 9.2.1: These address the condition of rooftop terminations. The codes state that upblast fans should be hinged and wiring systems should be weatherproof and flexible. Wiring should also never be installed in ducts, and service hold-open retainers should be present to allow for easy inspection and cleaning of materials on the roof.
Rooftop grease containment is another concern. The following fire codes are in place to combat fires on the roof:
- 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206: The grease collection device and draining system should be noncombustible, closed, rainproof and structurally sound. The upblast fan should include a way to drain grease into a visible receptacle no more than one gallon in volume.
What a restaurant owner needs to do to stay safe
Even though 74.3 percent of all restaurant building fires remain confined to the equipment that started them and do very little harm to the building or the people inside, it’s important to take precautions against restaurant fires with these tips:
- Install smoke alarms in the kitchen as well as throughout the building.
- Install a partial or fully automated extinguishing system, such as sprinklers.
- Clean hood filters regularly. Hire a professional kitchen exhaust cleaner and schedule monthly cleanings for solid fuel cooking operations or quarterly for high-volume, non-solid fuel burning cooking operations.
- Install a large enough duct access panel (3 inches by 5 inches square or a 4-inch diameter circle) to make cleaning the ductwork interior possible. After all, if you can’t see it, you can’t clean it.
Important NFPA 96 codes pertaining to restaurant owners and managers in Kansas City.