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Avoiding Kitchen Fires Spreading

David Berry

A kitchen fire can happen at any time and although a fire may begin on an appliance or in narrow ductwork, it can very quickly spread throughout an entire kitchen or even the building. The recent fire at iconic St Kilda restaurant The Stokehouse is a good example of this. Due to the nature of many styles of cooking we know that the risk of a kitchen cannot be eliminated entirely but the risk of it spreading to the entire building can.

Intense cooking heat, flammable oils, and built-up grease lining inaccessible ducts, all pose potential fire hazards to restaurants and business. Modern high temperature cooking oils, high-efficiency slow-cooling appliances and popular flame grilling methods have also combined to make fire risk more prevalent than ever before. 

Quite simply the biggest fire hazard in a restaurant is its kitchen. Whether a restaurant, hotel, club, fast-food outlet, school or hospital – all present the potential to be at risk of an unexpected kitchen fire. What many don't know is that the first line of defence to prevent fire spreading are the filters in the grease extraction systems. Whilst this is governed by Australian Standards many small business owners are unaware of these and have non compliant filters installed that will not prevent the spread of a fire.

More importantly many filters are simply inefficient at removing enough grease to prevent build up in hoods, ductwork and fans. This can be managed somewhat by regular cleaning regimes but it is common knowledge that many businesses either cannot afford to do this or have greater priorities. Fires may be avoided in these cases but eventually costly repairs to fans are needed as motors fail due to grease and soot build up. This in fact can be another source of fire due to overheating.

Our philosophy says that if there will be a fire in the kitchen then stop it from entering the duct, or do something to restrict its severity once it does enter. Veritech cartridge filters are the best example of a means of doing this. So much so that even flame grilling carries seriously reduced risk with Veritech Filters due to the fact that flames can’t penetrate the filter and there is little to no fat in the ducting system to ignite.

If the kitchen exhaust system has secondary systems such as UV or ESP installed then using a highly efficient filter will also prolong the maintenance intervals for these and reduce running costs significantly over time. Don't take the risk with your business ask us how we can assist.   

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