How to Keep Your Kitchen Cooking

A fire in your restaurant can injure your employees and guests. It can also cause your business to shut down for repairs and harm your company’s reputation. A surprisingly large portion of restaurants never reopen after a fire. Here are some tips to keep your kitchen cooking.

Vent Tec 1. Maintain Your Fire Suppression Systems

  • Have your system tested and serviced by a licensed professional every 6 months.

  • Have your fire extinguishers tested and serviced every 12 months.

  • Make sure the caps are on the discharge nozzles—they protect the opening from becoming clogged with grease and debris.

  • Make sure your system is UL300 compliant. Dry chemical systems are no longer legal for kitchens with fryers.

2. Clean Your Hood & Exhaust Ducts

  • Clean your filters several times per week.

  • Empty the grease receptacle on your roof fan frequently.

  • A build-up of grease inside your exhaust system can cause a major fire. Use the chart below to determine how often you need to have your system inspected and cleaned by a professional exhaust cleaning company.

  • INSPECT THE HOOD CLEANER’S WORK. Take the filters out and make sure the fusible links are clean, and shine a flashlight up the vertical duct — it should be completely clean. Require digital pictures of every portion of your exhaust system: all fusible links, plenum, fan, and the entire duct looking both directions from each duct access door.  

Washington Fire Code

Type/Volume of Cooking Inspection & Cleaning Frequency
Solid fuels such as wood, mesquite or charcoalAt least monthly
Kitchens with high grease volume, which is defined as any one of the following: 24 hour cooking, charbroiling, wok cooking, extensive frying, or any cooking that deposits more than 2 mm of grease in your exhaust systemAt least quarterly
Kitchens with moderate grease productionAt least semi-annually
Occasional use kitchens with low grease production such as churches and day campsAt least annually

3. Check Your Fryers

Fryers are a major source of fires and injuries, and they deposit a large amount of grease in the exhaust system.

  • Make sure your fryer is equipped with a high temperature shut-off switch—it will prevent your oil from overheating.

  • Are your fryers located next to a gas range, charbroiler, or other open flame appliance?  If so, the fire code requires at least 16 inches separation between the fryer and the appliance, unless you have an 8 inch stainless steel baffle between the fryer and the appliance.

Vent Tec 4. Train Your Employees

  • Show all employees how to manually activate the fire suppression system (the pull stations).

  • Employees need to know where the fire extinguishers are located, how to use them, and which extinguishers to use on a grease fire (K class only—the silver ones, not the red ones).

  • Emergency evacuation plans—they should know how to respond to an emergency to protect themselves and your guests.

  • Explain the need to keep water away from the fryer oil.

5. Don’t Forget Fire Safety Basics

  • If you rearrange cooking equipment under the hood, contact your fire suppression service company so they can re-arrange the fire suppression nozzles.

  • Be careful with sauté cooking and flame-ups—the flames can set fire to your filters and exhaust system.

  • Vent Tec Maintain clear and uncluttered walkways and storage areas

  • Don’t use extension cords or frayed electrical cords.

  • Provide K class fire extinguishers in your kitchen.

  • Clean cooking surfaces and kitchen equipment frequently.

  • Keep combustibles well away from hot surfaces.

  • Inspect all wiring often to eliminate frayed wires or over use.

  • Maintain fire insurance, and be aware that insurance companies are not obligated to cover losses caused by lack of, or improper maintenance.

  • Check for grease accumulation on your roof—it is a fire hazard and will damage the roof membrane.