What is NFPA 96 compliance?
NFPA 96 is a standard set to prevent fire hazards in commercial kitchens. It sets standards for cooking systems and especially commercial kitchen exhaust systems. The exhaust system should be cleaned and maintained regularly by a certified professional to keep the standard. The guide gives details on how often the systems should be cleaned and where exactly they should be cleaned. In addition, fire inspectors do verification to make sure that the inspection and cleaning standards are met.
The food service or restaurant exhaust system owner is responsible for keeping up with the NFPA 96 code. They will be responsible for maintaining cleanliness, inspection, and maintenance. Although the responsibility lies with the owner, the responsibility is transferred in a written form to another person like a management company.
What are the benefits of NFPA 96 compliance?
Safe use of kitchen equipment: NFPA 96 compliance ensures safe use of your kitchen equipment. For example, when using kitchen hood systems, they tend to accumulate a lot of grease and dirt. Keeping up with the standard ensures that the hood system is clean, promoting safe use of the equipment.
Protect staff: Since the standard is set to prevent fire hazards, it protects your staff from fire-related injuries. For example, a dirty kitchen exhaust system can cause fire accidents. According to a report done by the US fire administration from 2011 to 2013, 63.5% of restaurant fires happen in the kitchen when cooking. Maintaining the NFPA 96 standard can reduce fires.
Peace of mind: It is advisable to comply with NFPA 96 for peace of mind. When you know that your kitchen is safe from fire accidents, your staff, management and clients will have peace of mind. In addition, you will be confident to serve your clients better, knowing that the risk of fires is already low.
Proper design and installation: The NFPA 96 standard provides guidelines on the design and installation of kitchen exhaust systems. With proper design and installation, the systems work efficiently. The operations in your kitchen are fast, efficient and professional when you comply with the NFPA 96 standard.
The durability of your equipment: Since NFPA 96 encourages regular cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen exhaust systems, it leads to durability. Your systems last for long because they are well taken care of. You also do not have to deal with unwanted repairs all the time.
NFPA code 96 – Tips for staying compliant
Keep up with the cleaning and inspection schedule
The code provides a cleaning and inspection schedule depending on the size of your kitchen and even the type of foods that you cook. For example, if your system serves solid foods all the time, you will need to have a monthly inspection schedule.
Cleaning should be done by a professional
It is advisable that the cleaning is done by a professional with experience in the field. We have cleaning professionals with the NFPA 96 certification. Certified professional cleaners can keep up with the safety standards because they know guidelines and have the right training to do the job well.
Keep detailed reports
Keeping detailed reports of the cleaning and inspection is very important. The report is helpful in determining the status of your exhaust system and any parts that need replacement. Every time inspection is done, it is advisable to have the report for reference.
Let your staff know about the code.
Involving staff is important in staying compliant. You can do this by reminding your staff about upcoming cleaning schedules so that they can plan their time and work. When your staff is involved, it will be easier to plan to do cleaning and inspection without affecting their work.
Here are some things that your staff can do to make sure that your commercial kitchen is NFPA 96 compliant:
· Train your employees to do weekly inspections for tear and wear to check out for broken seals, exposed wires or missing screws.
· Kitchen staff should inspect the equipment to ensure that it is clean before they start using it. They should also clean it at the end of their shift.
· Encourage employees to check out the fire extinguisher regularly to ensure that everything is working and the nozzles are not blocked.
· The cooking staff should inspect the oil levels before starting the fryer to make sure that the oil is on the right level.
Ways to prevent fire hazards in commercial kitchens
Comply with the NFPA 96 code
Keeping up with the NFPA 96 code can help you to prevent most fire accidents. The code offers valuable guidelines that will ensure the safety of your equipment and staff. It gives details about the design, installation, cleaning and care of kitchen equipment. Since fire starts from the kitchen equipment, complying with the code can be helpful in preventing fire accidents from happening in the first place.
Install fire suppression systems
Fire suppression systems are essential in preventing fire hazards in the kitchen. The role of these suppression systems is to extinguish the fire even before it spreads to other areas of the kitchen or restaurants. Apart from having fire suppression systems, make sure that they have been properly installed and are maintained regularly so that they do the job well.
Train your employees in fire hazard management
Involving the employees is a big step in preventing fire hazards in commercial kitchens. You can take the employees through regular training to know how to prevent fires and how to deal with fires before they spread. Some of the important training skills for employees include;
· Learning about fire emergencies exists
· Knowing how to evacuate staff and clients
· Learning how to use a fire extinguisher
· Basic first aid in case of smoke chocking or burns
Training employees on fire hazard management can prevent injuries and also avoid unnecessary losses in the restaurant.
Regular inspection of equipment
It is advisable to inspect your cooking equipment regularly. The inspection is supposed to help you identify faults that are likely to cause fire accidents. Electrical faults are common causes of fire accidents in the kitchen, especially wiring. During the inspection, ensure that you check out for exposed wires or broken cables that are likely to cause accidents. If you discover any signs of tear and wear, overheating or dirt, your equipment needs servicing to reduce the risk of fire accidents in the kitchen.
Keep flammable items away.
Many people forget this rule when dealing with open fires. It is advisable to avoid anything flammable in the kitchen that will cause fire accidents. For instance, cooking staff gear should not be made from flammable materials. The head should be covered to prevent the hair from coming into contact with fire. To avoid flammable items in the kitchen, it is advisable to keep everything not used in the kitchen in the storage area.
Create a fire exit plan
Sometimes it is impossible to prevent fire accidents in the kitchen. The best you can do is make sure that you are ready when the fire happens. You can do this by creating a fire exit plan where employees and staff can escape in case of a fire. The fire exit should be clearly labeled for everyone to see so that in case of a fire, they can know how to escape.