Charbroiled food is back on the menu for many restaurants and other commercial kitchens this summer as a seasonal favorite. Since barbecue pits, rotisseries, grills and broilers all tend to use solid-fuel (such as charcoal, briquettes, mesquite, or hardwood), the rate at which they collect flammable material that needs to be regularly cleaned out increases. According to NFPA 96, systems serving solid fuel cooking operations should be inspected on a monthly basis.
Solid Fuel Cooking Equipment Needs its Own Ventilation System
Proper ventilation is imperative for solid-fuel cooking operations and must be a completely separate exhaust system from all other cooking appliances. There do exist, however two exceptions to this rule:
If your solid-fuel cooking equipment is installed underneath a water-wash hood and is considered equipment not requiring automatic fire-extinguishing systems.
If the solid-fuel is solely used for flavoring purposes and not cooking purposes. For this exception, there is a limit to the size, amount and rate at which you use solid fuel in the particular appliance.
When Sparks Fly, Your Risk Increases
Solid fuel must be contained within a smoker box and protected by a fire suppression system. Because sparks tend to fly from solid fuel, spark arresters must be placed BEFORE the grease filters to minimize the amount that can pass through into the plenums and ducts. If this were to happen, the sparks or embers could ignite the built up creosote (a by-product of solid fuel combustion) within the exhaust system. This is why the strict requirement of monthly cleaning is so important, as creosote is extremely flammable and poses a significant fire hazard.
Constant Maintenance is Key
Vigilant inspections are necessary for any type of solid fuel cooking. Combustion chambers should be inspected weekly for any excess residue that may restrict airflow through the vents, cause a fire, or result in corrosion. The combustion chamber should be scraped once a week. Ash should be removed once a day and sprayed with water before storing in a covered metal container to be removed from the building in a dumpster or contained at least 10 feet away. The flue or chimney should be inspected monthly for corrosion, physical damage, or excess residue.
Bare Metal Standard of Portland offers FREE inspections for all commercial cooking operations in the greater Portland area. We’ll inspect your complete system and identify any current fire safety hazards. You can rely on us to give you a straight answer on the state of your system as well as a fair price on cleaning it thoroughly. When you partner with us to help maintain your kitchen exhaust system cleaning schedules, you’ll never fail another inspection. You can rest assured that you’ll be operating a completely safe kitchen up to the highest standards: the BARE METAL STANDARD.