Description of risks

In addition to the risk of fire, the following risk factors should be taken into account:

  • Lack of a competent person at the place of activity
  • Human error
  • Faulty or untested electrical equipment
  • Aspects of forced ventilation design such as a long duct system, horizontal flues, type of fan, number and type of access doors to the flue
  • Some cleaning service contractors may cover only the exhaust unit part and easily accessible and visible places that are within arm’s reach.
  • Easily ignited food particles trapped in grease filter
  • There may be remnants of paper tissue and other easily ignited residuals inadvertently left in exhaust units and flues
  • Level of competence of the cleaning contractor
  • Incorrect choice of location or fault in the fire extinguishing system
  • Flues without access
  • Access doors that do not conform to the requirements for inspection and cleaning
  • Unsuitable ventilation system for kitchen environment
  • Deficiency in knowledge pertaining to the forced-air ventilation system

Whereas the described risks are fairly clearly defined, ranking them proved somewhat more complicated. After some trial and error, it was decided to retain the three-level classification system of low, normal and high risk level. This is not necessarily an ideal categorization, as the fact that there is a “normal” risk of fire does not necessarily prompt people to introduce improvements. On the contrary, it would be very hard to assess category numbers ranging from 1 to 10. Still, it is important that the results of the profiles not be compared to each other as the sites described are fairly different.

Some of the most important problems require a certain level of competence and understanding of the systems and equipment at the workplace. The fact that a competent person is on the spot at all times has fundamental importance when it comes to ensuring fire safety in kitchen operations. This also brings up the question of how well the personnel is trained in using the systems and operating procedures, including in the field of fire safety requirements and putting out fires.

It is vitally important from the standpoint of ensuring fire safety that the entire forced air ventilation and grease filters undergo regular inspections performed by a competent person. This process helps identify possible faults in the ductwork and the existence or absence of access doors to flues. The kitchen exhaust flue system must remain separate from other ventilation systems, and if the flues must penetrate other parts of the building, they should set aside a separate external flue that is subject to the same fire safety standards as the kitchen if the standard for the latter is higher than the other ventilation systems in the building. Outside the building, a minimal amount of pipe systems should be installed in order to prevent the potential congealing and solidification of grease inside the duct. If this is inevitable, then the ducts should be insulated.

It is important that there be a regular cleaning programme, not just to parts accessible by kitchen personnel, but also one performed by a competent cleaning contractor encompassing the entire forced-air ventilation system. Some cleaning contractors are known for building fire breaks instead of cleaning the entire system. This method is apparently for the purpose of reducing costs, but this is not a satisfactory solution. The recommended cleaning programme is provided in the risk analysis.

The most recent set of problems in this stage emphasizes the importance of a properly designed and installed fire extinguishing systems, which can prevent fire from spreading into flues and avoid secondary fires elsewhere. Recommendations are included for purchasing a suitable fire extinguishing equipment along with necessary maintenance regulations pursuant to instructions from the manufacturer.