The fire suppression system that is required to be mounted in kitchen cooking hoods is typically a wet-chemical extinguishing system that automatically releases the extinguishing agent when the system detects a fire. Back in the early 1990’s the common system used then was a dry-chemical system but was found to be ineffective in extinguishing certain cooking-oil based fires. While NFPA, CMS and the Accreditation Organizations has not prohibited the use of dry-chemical extinguishing systems in kitchen cooking hoods, most state authorities have. There was a major undertaking in the fire extinguishing industry to replace all dry-chemical system with the better suited wet-chemical systems.
The kitchen hood fire extinguishing system is required to be maintained semi-annually and the fusible links replaced annually. However, the owner’s representative (i.e. facility manager) is required to perform monthly inspections of the cooking hood extinguishing system. These requirements can be found in NFPA 17A, 1999 edition (for wet-chemical systems), and at a minimum, the quick check inspection must verify:
- The extinguishing system is in its proper location
- The manual actuators (pull stations) are not obstructed
- Tamper seals are intact on the pull station
- The semi-annual maintenance tag is clearly visible and in place
- There is no obvious physical damage or condition that would prevent operation
- The pressure gauge is in the operable range
- The nozzle blowoff caps are intact and undamaged
- The hood, duct, and protected cooking appliances have not been replaced, modified or relocated
A record of this monthly inspection is required to be maintained, and is usually documented on the semi-annual inspection tag tied to the manual pull station that activates the system.
One of the lessor-known items that surveyors like to do during the building tour is interview a kitchen staff individual who works near the cooking hood, on whether or not they have received training on the correct operation of the hood extinguishing system. Another question surveyors like to ask is where does the kitchen staff individual go to manually activate the extinguishing system? A negative answer on either question will likely result in a finding under a staff fire safety training standard.
Take a look at NFPA 17A (1999 edition) and make sure you are doing two basic things:
Conduct monthly inspections of all cooking hood suppression systems.
Train all kitchen staff on the correct operation of the cooking hood suppression system.
Also, make sure the extinguishing system is being maintained on a semi-annual basis.