Classifications of Fire ExtinguishersSalt Lake City, UT – The majority of restaurateurs understand the importance of fire safety in a commercial kitchen. A single fire outbreak has the potential to cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage to a commercial kitchen. There is also the risk of causing injury or loss of life if the fire is not quickly and effectively controlled. Fire systems require much more attention than simply installing a fire extinguisher beside the deep fryer or cooktop. Fires can be sparked by a number of different sources within a kitchen, some of which may require specialized fire systems to extinguish properly. There are several different classifications of fire extinguishers, each suited to fighting fires sparked by different sources.
How Fire Extinguisher Classifications WorkLabels on the front of each fire extinguisher display letters that outline the type of fire each system is suited to fight. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines three classes of common fires and another two specialty classes. These are:
Class A –Used to combat fires sparked by common combustible sources such as paper, cardboard boxes, or wood.
Class B –Used to fight high-heat fires fueled by flammable liquids, including gasoline, paint, oil, and other solvents.
Class C –Used to extinguish electrical fires that may have been caused by appliances or motors.
Class D –Used specifically for fighting fires that involve combustible metals, such as titanium, sodium, magnesium, or potassium that have the potential to react violently if doused with water or other chemicals.
Class K –Used specifically for combating fires sparked in cooking appliances or that involve cooking fats or vegetable oils. Standard dry chemicals found in common fire extinguishers are ineffective when trying to extinguish fires in modern cooking appliances, so using specialized fire extinguishers is crucial for improving kitchen safety. Aside from having the correct fire extinguishers and other fire suppression systems in place, commercial kitchen owners can reduce the risk of fire by regularly cleaning and inspecting hood installations, changing grease filters often, and checking that any flammable liquids or chemical solutions are stored properly away from stoves or cooking equipment. All commercial kitchens are required to adhere to national fire testing standard UL-300, which was designed to ensure fires are safely controlled and maintained. A professional fire system service can provide peace of mind that your kitchen’s fire system installation is up to code and that you have the correct classifications of fire extinguishers to suit your kitchen’s needs.
Are Your Fire Suppression Systems Compliant?Commercial kitchen facilities are required to uphold fire testing standard UL-300, a policy that has been in place since 1994. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, the organization that created the rules to help commercial kitchens deal with and control property and life-threatening fires. To earn UL 300 certification, which is necessary to secure a Property Insurance policy, Underwriters Laboratories must test and certify each piece of fire suppression equipment independently. The goal is to help restaurants reduce the risk of fires by ensuring that all cooking equipment and the kitchen setup minimizes the collection of grease in the duct-work and the air. Fire extinguishing equipment must also be adequate in handling the severely hot temperatures that can be found in most commercial kitchen equipment.
UL-300 CertificationBefore 1994, most commercial cooking operations used animal fat and deep fryers that were poorly insulated, resulting in inconsistent and inefficient cooking temperatures. In those days, kitchens used dry chemical systems that would smother a fire if one were to break out.
Modern Fire Suppression SystemsThese days, kitchens have done away with animal fat and have instead turned to vegetable oils, which tend to heat to cooking temperatures more quickly. The deep fryers used in today’s kitchens retain heat more efficiently and are well-insulated. However, dry chemical systems are no longer used, as they are incapable of extinguishing fires and keeping them extinguished. UL-300 calls for the use of wet chemical fire suppression systems, which serve two primary purposes. First, UL-300 systems still smother fires similar to the way dry chemical extinguishers did. Second, they are designed to cool the liquids so that the fire doesn’t re-ignite, something dry systems were unequipped to do.
UL-300 RequirementsIf you hope for your commercial kitchen to pass inspection, the following requirements will need to be put into place.
- Fire extinguishing nozzles should be located in all hoods and ducts, as well as above each cooking appliance.
- All gas and electrical power sources should have automatic fuel shutoff capabilities.
- A manual shutoff pull station should be available for all power sources.
- You should have at least one wet chemical fire extinguishing system that adheres to UL-300 (and that is checked semi-annually by a certified professional).
- All hoods and ductwork should be maintained and cleaned semi-annually by an authorized service company.
- Grease filters should be cleaned on a weekly basis.