Article contributed by Master Fire Systems
Restaurant operators know that wet chemical systems are the only solution to their fire suppression needs. In fact, commercial cooking cannot be done without a state of the art Fire Suppression system. Voluminous cooking with today’s vegetable oils cause high heat conditions therefore creating a hazardous environment to say the least. The potential for a fire exists well after the last customer has left and the restaurant has closed its doors for the night.
Having Fire Suppression systems that automatically detects heat and/or fire, and effectively smothers it, is now the industry standard. By integrating heat sensors, fires are now able to be detected almost before they start. The system’s ability to sense a fire with such speed not only saves lives, but property as well. In the past, dry chemical systems were the norm, now wet agent systems are the standard. There are some fundamental considerations that need to be taken into account.
There are several top-of-the-line fire suppression systems’ manufacturers who are a level above the rest. However, only an experienced fire suppression system’s expert or contractor, who is in fact certified by those manufacturers, should be on your list. This is a must when it comes to choosing which system to integrate into your commercial cooking operation.
First and foremost all fire suppression systems are not equal. They use different processes and agents to extinguish fires. Some may be more effective on grease, such as in a restaurant kitchen, and others may be more effective on paper, such as in a warehouse. In a restaurant kitchen, certain features are critical, including: mechanical gas shut-off, remote pull station and distribution piping.
There are other types of fire suppression systems including: special hazard, dry chemical and various others. However, when it comes to commercial cooking, fires need to be diffused at the fuel source with a gas valve micro switch for electric equipment. This is one reason why clean agent systems are becoming more popular. They’re fast acting, and act so as to control and extinguishing flash fires before they take hold.
As we said, there are a couple manufacturers who stand out such as Kidde and Ansul fire suppression systems. The later being the gold standard in the industry. They come in stainless steel enclosures, and look aesthetically better in addition to providing the best in breed results.
A rapid response system is critical to help smother a fire and save lives as well as limit the risk of asset loss and damage. Designing and installing such a system is no easy task. The first step is to conduct a survey per the architectural plans. If they are not accessible or this is a brand new commercial kitchen, the fire suppression contractor will do their own survey. This includes looking at the cooking equipment, determining the size of the hood, how big the duct size is, and estimate which suppression system would be the best for your needs.
Keep in mind that all fire suppression systems need to be installed per current UL-300 standards. This includes protecting the complete hood plenum, the entire cooking surface and the exhaust ducts.
Restaurant kitchen fire suppression systems costs vary depending on a variety of factors. First, how big is the hood? As measured from left to right, is the hood under 12 feet, between 12 and 24 feet or over 25 feet? Next the appliances need to be taken into consideration. What appliances does the suppression agent need to cover such as fryers, burners, griddles and chargrills? What about any specialty appliances such as open face broilers, tilt Skillets, braising pans, pizza ovens or wok stations, etc. Surveying the kitchen for the items will help determine the number and sizes of nozzles, detection Brackets, suppression tank, wall brackets, hood penetration seals, corner pulleys & cables and so on.
Three sets of plans will need to be filed with the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department. The fire department will visit your establishment to perform what is known as a balloon test wherein which a fire is simulated and air runs through the distribution piping instead of wet chemical agents and all electrical appliances will shut down. This will be witnessed by FDREP.
Bi-annual maintenance includes insuring that heat detectors are changed and/or CO2 or Nitrogen cartridges as well. To ensure the utmost safety of your establishment, full operation of squeeze card valve works and electrical shuts down is performed.
From design and installation to inspection and maintenance, the goal of any reputable fire suppression service contractor, is to ensure that his client’s restaurant hood suppression system is working 100% of the time.