The need for two different service companies for the kitchen exhaust hood system has often caused confusion; a common misconception for customers is one tech completes both the exhaust cleaning and fire protection service. Preventative maintenance services are often the intangible we’d like to squeeze out of the budget – it doesn’t build your customer base or provide the same ‘value’ that remodels can. So it’s no wonder many service companies use the blame-game to deflect from their own specialty. Nowhere is this more the case than when two service companies work on the same system.
Like commercial exhaust systems, the exhaust cleaning (KEC) service company, like Averus, is meant to address the buildup of grease, carbons and other particulates within the exhaust system, in all accessible areas, from the hood plenum (area behind the grease filters), the accessible exhaust ductwork to the roof and the fan itself. The suppression piping and detection are both typically installed within the hood, hood plenum, and into the exhaust duct opening, so logically it would seem the buildup would be cleaned by the KEC tech. Not so much. That buildup we’re talking about, often carbonized or dried-out, is the syrup colored, sticky or charred gunk regularly covering the piping, nozzles, and fusible link assembly of the fire suppression system, (along with everything else), you’d still be wrong to think the KEC tech is cleaning that.
NFPA 96, the standard that is often referenced in Life Safety code, specifically requires that exhaust cleaners not clean, nor apply chemicals to any components of the fire suppression system. When you understand how the KEC technician cleans the system, this reasoning becomes obvious. A professional KEC company uses high-pressure water to clean build-up that has been building up over weeks or months. The fire suppression system includes a fusible link detection line(s), which at maximum, can only withstand 55 pounds of force. A pressure washer cleaning it at 3,000 PSI will easily surpass that force. NFPA (www.NFPA.org) requires all maintenance of any and all components of the fire system be performed by trained, qualified, and certified persons acceptable to the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction, such as the local code authority, fire inspector, building inspector).
Fire technicians, like ours here at Averus, receive a tremendous amount of training in order to obtain certification. KEC technicians aren’t required and likely don’t have the required licensing for fire suppression. At Averus we take fire and life safety seriously. We know our customers expect us to be the best and to operate as the best. Not only do we use an independent training program for our KEC techs, we’ve developed our own in-house, and ongoing monthly training programs. And, since Averus operates nationally for both kitchen exhaust and fire protection services, our goal is to be a vendor-partner.
So the next time a fire protection company blames the kitchen exhaust cleaners for having to replace part of the detection line due to buildup (also called soot, grease, char, and carbon) you can let them know that it was their job during the semi-annual maintenance to clean and remove this buildup, not the KEC team. You are officially informed, and if you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email, our managers are always honored to help our customers understand how their systems work.