Exhaust System Inspection and Verification
NFPA 96 Fire Code requires an exhaust system, (hoods, ducts, exhaust fans), to be cleaned on a routine basis as required. That routine frequency is based on the cooking equipment that is under each exhaust hood. For example; char-broilers and fryers need more frequent “cleanings/service” than a stack oven, star top range, and steamers.
However, simply “checking” the date of the current service companies “service tag” on the corner of the hood is not enough to verify that the work needed was completed to the NFPA 96 Fire Codes for compliance and mitigating the risk of fire inside the kitchen exhaust system.
Inspection and Verification Steps:
- Go to your most used/workhorse cook line in your kitchen.
- Find the char-broiler and deep fat fryers.
- Remove 1 or 2 of the hood filters above the char-broiler and fryers.
- Find the ductwork that will be rising from the hood plenum and venting the grease-laden vapors from that equipment.
- Using a bright LED flashlight that produces a good beam of light, shine some light up and into the exiting grease duct. Lean into the cook line and inspect “up” as far as possible.
- Inspect and verify if the grease duct is clean. (The ductwork is supposed to be as clean as the hoods plenum, the plenum is the area “behind” the hood filters). It should not be greasier or dirtier the “farther” up the duct. That is a “tell” that your system is not being completely cleaned when serviced.
- If heavy grease build-up is found up the ductwork, call your service provider and ask him to complete the work to the NFPA 96 Code, as they should have been providing all along. This should be at no cost to your entity.
NFPA 96: Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations.
NFPA 96, 11.4: Inspection for Grease Build-up. The ENTIRE exhaust system shall be inspected for grease build-up by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.
NFPA 96, 11.6.1: Upon inspection, if the exhaust system is found to be contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors, the contaminated portions of the exhaust system shall be cleaned.
NFPA 96, 11.6.2: Hoods, grease removal devices (filters), exhaust fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to remove combustible contaminants prior to surfaces becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge.
NFPA 96, 11.6.13: When an exhaust cleaning service is used, a certificate showing the name of the servicing company, the name of the person performing the work, and the date of inspection or cleaning shall be maintained on the premises.
NFPA 96, 11.6.14: After cleaning or inspection is completed, the exhaust cleaning company and the person performing the work at the location shall provide the owner of the system with a written report that also specifies areas that were inaccessible or not cleaned.
Provided by: Michael Taylor, CTO, Bare Metal Standard