The owner of a local fire suppression system company that also specializes in hood cleaning services recently discovered a disturbing trend at several restaurants.
Out of 20 restaurants and other facilities inspected or serviced by APS-Hoods in June and July, 12 of them had link lines in the fire suppression systems that were clogged with grease or systems that had been put together poorly or didn't meet current codes, said Massoud Farazandeh, chief executive officer of American Professional Systems (APS-Hoods).
Hood plenums and ducts filled with grease are the most common, yet most easily preventable issues, Farazandeh said.
"The maintenance and inspection of fire suppression systems is much more regulated than hood cleaning," he said. "All cities require they be inspected every six months."
Hood cleaning is not as heavily regulated, however. But it's just as important, if not more important than the fire suppression system inspections, Farazandeh said.
"Hood, duct and fan cleaning on a regular basis done by a professional company is the cheapest, easiest and most practical way of preventing grease fires in the commercial kitchen," he said.
Because of this, hood cleaning services account for a large portion of Farazandeh's business. However, there still are too many restaurants out there with fire hazards in their kitchens due to failure to clean and maintain their hood systems, he said.
There are several common problems Farazandeh sees when he inspects fire suppression systems and hood systems. Often, the fusible link line conduits are full of grease. Grease in the conduits can prevent the system from setting off properly in the event of a fire.
Another issue is when the cable doesn't travel properly to set off the system. The cable is connected to the fusible link line and it sets off the mechanical head system, which discharges fire suppression chemicals in the event of a fire, Farazandeh said.
Electrical interlocking that isn't in place also can prevent a fire suppression system from working properly. In case of fire, the electrical interlocking starts up the exhaust fan, shuts off the Makeup Air Unit and shuts off electrical appliances, outlets and lights in and under the hood. In some cases, the electrical interlocking shuts off the flow of gas.
"If that is not working properly, it keeps feeding the fire fresh oxygen," Farazandeh said.
Another common problem Farazandeh has seen lately is nozzle caps that are not on and nozzles that are full of grease. If the system goes off and the nozzles are clogged, the fire suppression chemical won't be discharged properly.
"We usually do one or two system recharges every month due to a fire that was caused by a build-up of grease," Farazandeh said, adding that common locations for this grease are in hoods and filters and in, on or around equipment.