Kitchen Exhaust Summit Highlights Unseen Danger

I am passionate about safety. Therefore, one of the missions at Performance Industrial is to educate others on ways to ensure their building’s systems are operating safely. That’s why we recently sponsored the Kitchen Exhaust Summit, two free, half-day seminars on ways to prevent grease fires in commercial kitchens. Local inspectors, code enforcers and firefighters, as well as owners and managers of area commercial kitchens attended, but this is a topic that touches all of us.

The seminar covered key concerns and best practices in kitchen exhaust system cleaning and fire prevention, as well as updates to commercial kitchen exhaust cleaning standards.

“What lurks in dark and creepy places? Grease…the fuel source for commercial kitchen fires.”
–Don Pfleiderer

A Kitchen Exhaust System Cleaning Expert

The presenter, Don Pfleiderer was on a three-day tour with stops in Albany, South Hadley, Massachusetts at Mt. Holyoke College, and at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Don boasts 40 years of experience in the kitchen exhaust system field, including time on the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) board.

Participants included representatives from Delhaize Group, General Electric, Mt. Holyoke College, Price Chopper, Skidmore College, State Farm Insurance, St. Peter’s Healthcare, The College of St. Rose, The State University of New York, and Turning Stone Resort Casino, as well as numerous city and county officials and fire inspectors from Albany, Boston, Guilderland, Ravena, Saugerties, Glens Falls and more.

Scared clean

I believe that the public has the right to expect that commercial establishments are taking every possible safety precaution when it comes to kitchen exhaust system cleaning. Every time we eat in or visit an establishment with a commercial kitchen–a restaurant, a mall, a hospital, a grocery store–the fuel for a potentially deadly fire could be lingering in that kitchen’s exhaust system if it has not been properly maintained and cleaned.

Pfleiderer shared the following facts about grease fires:
• It only takes 1/12” of grease build-up to burn down an exhaust system.
• A grease fire can burn through a typical fast food-style restaurant in as little as 5 minutes.
• Many hospitals would be unable to evacuate all patients in the case of a fast-burning grease fire.

Buildings at risk

According to Pfleiderer, the following mixed-use structures have increased reason for concern due to the greater impact of a fire:
• High-rises in dense downtown areas
• Shopping malls
• Hospitals
• Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
• K-12 schools and college facilities
• Hotels

Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

Pfleiderer coached attendees not to take shortcuts when considering areas of the kitchen exhaust system that are not easily accessible. Facility operators and owners need to fully understand the condition of every part of their system, including all ductwork, as well as what to demand from their cleaning contractor.

“As few as five percent of the contractors in this industry are really cleaning the entire system from kitchen hood to roof fan,” said Pfleiderer. “Many never touch the ductwork that connects them.”

Pfleiderer also suggested that restaurants see inspectors as a source of help, not just a regulatory authority.

The Performance Industrial difference

At Performance Industrial, we also have experts in commercial and restaurant kitchen exhaust system cleaning. We adhere to NFPA-96 standards which state that only a bare metal cleaning can reduce the risk of fire. So our team will leave nothing behind but bare metal. You truly can’t afford not to hire us! If you would like to learn more, please contact us.

Download 4 Fires Waiting to Happen