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Commercial Cooking Ventilation

Commercial cooking equipment that produces smoke and grease-laden vapors should always have ventilation and fire suppression protection. Components that need special attention include kitchen hoods, grease filters, exhaust ducts, exhaust fans, lighting units and fire extinguishing equipment.

Construction and Installation

Consider the following guidelines when installing commercial cooking controls:

  • Construct kitchen hoods in accordance with NFPA 96®
  • Construct grease filters from steel and make sure they are accessible and removable for periodic cleaning procedures
  • Provide clean-out traps in all elbow sections of exhaust ducts
  • Maintain a clearance of at least 18 inches where ducts pass through partitions or walls of combustible material; if it is not practical to maintain this clearance, provide protection in the form of noncombustible insulation or other similar fire-resistive materials
  • Install protective vapor-tight globes on light fixtures over the cooking hoods; install all electrical equipment in accordance with NFPA 70®, National Electric Code

Fire Protection

Protect your kitchen hoods, ductwork, cooking surfaces, cabinet-type broilers and deep fryers with a wet chemical-type fire extinguishing system, in accordance with UL 300® standards (see EMC Tech Sheet – Fire Suppression for Commercial Cooking). The extinguishing system should be equipped with both automatic and manual activation devices. When activated these devices will shut off all fuel to cooking devices under the hood. 

Center an extinguisher discharge nozzle above each deep fryer and inside each cabinet-type broiler. UL-300® fire extinguishing systems should be listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, installed by a licensed contractor and serviced every six months by a qualified contractor. Per NFPA 17A®, the owner of the system must perform monthly inspections. Do not allow cooking to take place when the fire suppression system is inoperable.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Grease build-up on appliances and filters is a common cause of ventilation problems. Every six months, a qualified contractor should perform and document cleaning. Replace fusible links annually or sooner, if necessary. And regularly service and replace other actuators, as recommended by the manufacturer.

It is important to comply with all local and federal codes regarding cleaning and maintaining cooking equipment. Following the proper procedures will reduce the risk of kitchen fires and improve ventilation for smoke and odor removal.


If a fire occurs in the kitchen, your employees need know what to do. The automatic suppression system should be the primary method of controlling a fire, but employees should also be trained to operate the manual activation device. This device will immediately shut off the fuel and cool the surface. If the suppression system does not immediately put out the fire, employees should evacuate the building and call the fire department from a safe area.

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