The National Fire Protection Association Code 96: Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations outlines specific recommendations for fire protection in a commercial kitchen. State regulations and local ordinances establish required fire protection rules in commercial kitchens, which may differ by location. However, the majority of state and local governments follow the NFPA's codes and standards.
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Cooking equipment that produces smoke or grease vapours must be adequately vented with the exhaust system in good working condition. All interior and exterior parts of cooking equipment must be accessible for cleaning. Exhaust systems, hoods, ducts and grease removal devices must meet the minimum clearance distance, which varies depending on specific type of equipment.
Commercial kitchens are required to have an automatic fire extinguishing system, such as sprinklers, as well as portable extinguishers that are labelled with clear instructions. Exhaust hoods must be equipped with a water wash system or its equivalent. Upon automatic system activation, the fuel and electrical supply should power off automatically and sound an alarm.
All cooking equipment must be listed by a testing laboratory, for example, UL listed and installed according to the manufacturer's directions. Additionally, cooking equipment must be arranged in accordance with the fire extinguishing system. Deep fryers have a minimum space requirement around and above them, which differs depending on the type of surrounding materials. They also must be equipped with an automatic shut off that powers down when temperature reaches 246 degrees Celsius.
The NFPA does not inspect or certify commercial kitchens for compliance. Typically, the fire chief or marshal who is a local government employee is the authority who inspects and approves all commercial buildings on an annual basis for fire safety. Penalties for violations depend upon local ordinances and the severity of violation.
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