• BSE

Kitchen Fires—Destructive but Avoidable. Here’s How.


The alarming number of commercial kitchen fires these last few months alone has made it imperative for us to spread awareness among business owners and the public on crucial information and practices regarding kitchen safety.


Common causes

Small fires commonly occur in the kitchen due to

  • Overheated cooking oil on the stove or in a deep pan fryer by grill

  • Unattended cooking

  • Malfunction of cooking equipment

  • Tossing cooking style

  • Overheated cooking

  • Grease accumulation inside kitchen exhaust ducts over a period of time

  • Fire in the ducts started by sparks or by fire from the stove

Being continually exposed to high heat, open flame and/or flammable substances, all commercial kitchens are required by the SCDF Fire Code 7.1.13 to be fitted with an exhaust system (Kitchen Suppression System) to support the fire-fighting operations in the building.


Kitchen Suppression System

Located as an exhaust duct over the cooking area, the system detects and extinguishes fire in the following ways:

  • Nozzles in the kitchen exhaust hoods discharge wet chemical solutions over the fire which 1) cover the flames and 2) starve them of oxygen

  • The gas line for the kitchen area is immediately cut off once the system is activated, depriving the fire of fuel

  • The hood is automatically turned on to remove smoke from the kitchen

Benefits:

  • Preventing a kitchen fire is less expensive than 1) repairing the structural damage after a fire, 2) replacing materials and 3) suspending operations for a long period of time

  • The spread of the fire is controlled and restricted to an individual station’s cooking surface rather than the whole kitchen

What kind of establishments require a Kitchen Suppression System?

  • Food courts

  • Restaurants

  • Small F&B outlets

  • Coffee houses

  • Hotel owners/operators

  • Commercial cooking operations in general

Who is responsible for the Kitchen Suppression System?

According to the SCDF Fire Code 4.12 (Kitchen exhaust ducts),

  • Building Owners and Council Members are responsible by regulation

  • Fire Protection Specialists, like BSE, MCST Managing agencies, and/or technicians are engaged to assist Building Owners and Council Members

What kind of maintenance will the Kitchen Suppression System need and how often?

According to regulations, the common frequency of inspection, testing and maintenance of the Kitchen Suppression System, including degreasing operations, is YEARLY. The regulatory testing of the Kitchen Suppression System is also conducted ANNUALLY.


Basic features of the Kitchen Suppression System

This fixed installation of a fire suppression system for the kitchen area includes these basic components:


General

  • System connected to Main/Sub Fire Alarm Panel

  • Automatic cut-off device for gas fuel supply provided

  • Emergency manual release for extinguishing agent provided

  • Signs “IN CASE OF FIRE—PULL TO RELEASE” and “CALL 995” are provided

Cylinder for Extinguishing Agent

  • PSB Approved label provided

  • Rigidly mounted

  • Serviced by fire safety work contractor/competent personnel

  • Date of Service

Nozzle and pipe works

  • Rigidly mounted

  • Free of grease (internally and externally)

  • Free of obstruction

  • Double layer provided

Heat activating device

  • Fusible link enclosed in piping

  • Free of obstruction

  • Free of grease

  • Properly installed

  • Verified to be in functioning condition (simulated test conducted)

Tips on having an optimum Kitchen Suppression System:

  • Exhaust ducts and kitchen hoods should be degreased and cleaned at least once every 12 months

  • Tell-tale signs of a problem: 1) Leaking hoods and/or 2) Leaking ducts

  • Ensure that the system is UL 300 approved

  • Ensure that the Kitchen Exhaust Ducting System is approved by the relevant code of practices

  • Ensure that the gas supply safety shut-off valve system interlocks with the Kitchen Suppression System

  • Do not use water to extinguish a cooking fire as the chemical reaction could cause the fire to grow and spread

  • Use a wet towel instead or allow the Kitchen Suppression System to extinguish the fire

References:

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