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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Cooking – Part 106

July 12, 2021 11:06 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 105, LWF discussed heating before beginning to discuss the potential fire danger from cooking appliances and activities. In part 106, we continue to discuss fire prevention and fire safe kitchen practices.

The grease build-up in a professional or institutional kitchen can be easily underestimated. Grease filters, extract ductwork and grease traps must be regularly cleaned in order to remain safe. It is quite common for those responsible for kitchen areas to change the necessary filters, but to pay scant attention to the deep cleaning of ductwork. Such areas cannot be neglected, as a commonplace fire starting in a deep fat fryer can spread through an uncleaned ductwork to the thick layer of grease deposits within. Fire in ductwork is very difficult to extinguish and can cause the fire to spread to other parts of the building, or even to neighbouring buildings.

While deep cleaning ductwork might sound an onerous task, it doesn’t have to be done every week. The Kent Fire Service recommends the following:

 “Ideally, you should measure the rate of build up of grease on the internal surfaces of ductwork. If this is not possible, your cleaning work should be planned around the level of use:

 Heavy use (12-16 hours per day) – clean every three months.

Moderate use (6-12 hours per day) – clean every six months.

Light use (2-6 hours per day) – clean every 12 months.

Where cooking processes involve fat frying or wood/charcoal burning, cleaning may need to be more frequent.”

 Deep fat fryers are one of the most hazardous items in a kitchen and are one of the most common causes of cooking fires in non-domestic premises. Safeguards that should be put in place are a thermostat with a maximum setting of 205 ºC and a high temperature cut-out in case of thermostat failure. Grease traps should be fitted to any low-level ductwork. A facility should be made to shut the lids of fryers in the event of a fat fire, to deprive the fire of oxygen.

The fire risk from a deep fat fryer is so great that it is advisable to consider a fixed manual or automatic fire extinguishing system to mitigate the risk.

In part 107 of this series, LWF will look at the fire risks associated with outside contractors. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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