Kitchen and food service related fires are an unpleasant fact of life in the food industry.
Each year there are over 8,000 structure fires at eating and drinking establishments around the country. Over half of these fires were caused by cooking equipment.
In recent years, restaurants have joined with their more health-conscious customers by lowering the fat and cholesterol content in food by moving to vegetable oil as the key cooking oil. The downside from a fire protection point of view is that these oils burn at much higher temperatures, with smoke points of between 360 degrees Fahrenheit to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This combination using vegetable oil, along with the modernization of kitchen appliances that allow units to maintain heat more efficiently for longer periods of time, has created new issues for fire protection in food service kitchen areas.
The most volatile form of a kitchen fire is the so-called ‘grease fires.’ Traditionally, grease fires were dealt with by using a dry chemical agent to extinguish the fire. Dry chemical fire suppression systems use a powder that is mono-ammonium phosphate based. A dry chemical suppression system uses a free-flowing, water repellant and a non-abrasive agent that is used to smother a fire by blanketing the area. The chemical is yellow in color to differentiate from other dry chemical agents and when combined with moisture can become corrosive.
The biggest drawback of using a dry chemical agent in today’s hot kitchen fires is that the fire is subject to reigniting.
In order to solve this problem, the UL 300 Standard for Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishing Systems for Protection of Commercial Cooking Equipment was introduced. The UL 300 Standard governs the engineering and testing of kitchen fire suppression systems.
The new standards have adopted a wet chemical system in place of the older dry chemical agent. The wet systems have the advantage of not only smothering the fire but also provide a cooling agent to prevent the fire from reigniting. When the wet fire suppression system is activated, a liquid spray reacts with oils to create a foam that both smothers the fire and cools the surface area.
While there are many quality kitchen fire suppression systems on the market, ANSUL claims that their products protect more food service kitchens from fire than any other brand in the country. Let’s take a quick look at the ANSUL R-102 fire suppression system to get a good idea how these systems work.
The R-102 fire suppression system incorporates a flexible design with an extremely effective ANSULEX Low pH Liquid Agent. ANSULEX quickly knocks down flames and cools hot surfaces, while generating a tough vapor-securing blanket that helps prevent re-flash.
The R-102 system is designed to protect areas associated with ventilating equipment, including hoods, ducts, plenums, and filters. It also protects auxiliary grease extraction equipment and cooking equipment such as various types of fryers, griddles, range tops, broilers, char-broilers, and woks. The system is ideally suited for commercial kitchens in fast food chains, retail food courts, diners, convenience stores, catering facilities, mobile food trucks, hotels and casinos, stadiums, schools, hospitals and more.
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Another popular wet chemical suppression system is Range guard. The Range guard UL 300 compliant system has been on the market for a number of years. The Range guard features rapid-fire detection and an automatic system shut off for the appliances is hooked up to the system.
The Amerex UL300 fire suppression systems offer increased adaptability in the use and positioning of the nozzles which is important in locations where the cooking stations need to be moved around.
Finally, there is Pyro-Chem fire suppression system. The Pyro-Chem system is a potassium carbonate-based water system based on a high pH formula which knocks flames down and cuts off air to the burning grease. This system features flexible piping configurations which allow for easy kitchen workflow.
No matter what kind of kitchen fire protection you need All Florida Fire Equipment will work with you to design, install and maintain the perfect system to meet your needs.
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