The latest fire-protection systems provide real-time monitoring capabilities, streamline maintenance and evolve with kitchens as they change.
The global pandemic has created economic challenges in the hospitality sector, with many restaurant teams working tirelessly to recover from losses and remain in business. Even with the developing trend of ghost kitchens to support food delivery services, these businesses are still finding themselves understaffed, adding extra measures to safely accommodate in-person diners and wondering when they may see a light at the end of the tunnel. Challenges like these could leave a restaurant especially vulnerable. Any major operational setbacks, like a devastating fire event, could serve a final blow.
To help keep their operation running safely and profitably, it’s more important than ever for the owners and operators of commercial kitchens and food service facilities to ensure they have a reliable and smart fire-suppression solution. The latest systems feature sophisticated capabilities that provide restaurant owners and operators peace of mind while saving valuable time and costs for already-stretched schedules and budgets.
At the same time, it’s essential that these fire-suppression systems are compliant with critical regulations and standards. Authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), specifiers, consultants and kitchen designers need to ensure that system design, installation and service meet codes like ULC300 and NFPA 96.
Centralized monitoring and multi-zone protection
To help restaurants alleviate these challenges and meet necessary codes, fire-protection manufacturers are offering new electric detection technology that can centrally monitor and protect multiple hazard zones. Since having multiple hazard zones in kitchens requires additional monitoring, it is helpful to have a solution that allows users to track the operational status of each zone via a single interface. Real-time status updates can give operators a sense of security knowing that if there is a fire event, the system will react appropriately and provide immediate notification.
Some electric detection technology available today can also be used to identify alarm conditions, silence alarms, reset systems and engage cleaning mode. These systems can also offer the potential for scalability as well as smart features that allow fire-protection systems to evolve as the kitchen expands by adding new zones and appliances.
Customized temperature ratings and targeted suppression
Compared to other detection offerings, newer electric detection technology can provide more versatile protection of multiple kitchen appliances under one hood. When two appliances, such as a wood-fueled burner and an electric range, are operating under the same hood, each may require a unique temperature-rated fire detection device. Using innovative connector assemblies, recently developed restaurant electric detection technology provides the ability to assign different temperature ratings to individual appliances under one hood.
Current linear detection technologies offer a range of 155°F (68°C) to 500°F (260°C), while recent electric thermal detection can offer an expanded range up to 725°F (385°C). Because many appliances operate at different temperatures, having a detector assigned to each appliance’s ambient temperature rating ensures reliable fire suppression. It also helps prevent premature activation and mitigates the risk of a fire burning out of control due to late activation from an incorrect temperature rated detector.
If a fire event does occur, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states all suppression systems should discharge simultaneously in a single hazard area. However, some new configurable fire-protection technology allows users to program the system and dictate which hood systems activate based on the design. Exclusions in NFPA codes and standards allow users with configurable fire systems to program the system to target the fire event and discharge the suppression agent only in the affected hazard zone(s). Isolating specific hazard zones allows other cooking zones to remain operational while reducing clean-up, food waste, and downtime.
Simpler maintenance, less downtime
In addition to targeted suppression, other features can simplify maintenance, allowing staff to focus on customers. While traditional mechanical detection systems have proven reliable and easy to service, grease build-up can occur. Certain electric detection systems allow hoods to be cleaned individually without requiring deactivation of the entire fire-protection system. If the disengaged hood is not manually re-engaged after cleaning is complete, a fail-safe timer automatically resets the system. System parts can be removed and simply wiped down by hand when needed, making cleaning even easier.
The latest systems also offer 24/7 troubleshooting and automatic reminders when it is time for routine cleaning and maintenance. These combined features not only help ensure the fire-protection system is ready if a fire event occurs, it also greatly reduces system downtime during cleaning and maintenance periods.
Intelligent electric detection technology is helping real customers simplify operations and reduce downtime. One restaurant facility that has benefited from this level of intelligent electric detection technology is the City Foundry STL (CFSTL) food hall, which houses 20 food stalls and can seat 500 diners. Each food stall has its own kitchen and, due to the diversity of cuisine offered, a range of different cooking appliances.
The food hall is located within a multipurpose complex alongside other restaurants and entertainment, retail and office spaces. Its kitchens are close to one another and to patrons. This proximity can increase the risk of property damage and human casualty if a fire event occurred in one of the stalls.
To best protect the food hall, surrounding facilities and occupants, CFSTL sought out a fire-protection system specifically designed to handle the complexity of numerous, high-volume cooking stations. The chosen system provides intelligent, reliable and comprehensive multi-zone fire protection while also simplifying maintenance and cleanup. The system was designed to be combined with an ANSUL R-102 or Piranha suppression system, which ensures it meets necessary codes such as UL/ULC300, NFPA 96, and NFPA 17A.
Providing intelligent, centralized monitoring and customizable linear detection for up to 16 hazard zones, the system allows users to continually monitor cooking stations in real time. Using only two centralized display units, fire and safety contractors installed more than 25 detection circuits for all kitchen hoods and accompanying ducts in the food hall. If a fire is detected, the controllers are programmed to simultaneously actuate the connected fire suppression system and send a notification that includes the actuated zone to the display.
The system features targeted suppression, which means it can be programmed to only discharge the fire-suppression system over individual affected areas rather than the entire kitchen or several stalls, reducing clean-up and downtime. Upon activation, optional relays will also shut down electrical equipment and electric gas valves.
To accommodate the range of cooking equipment used from stall to stall, the system’s linear detection wires allow the temperature to be customized for each appliance, with multiple color-coded temperature ratings set up in a single zone. To streamline maintenance, the system also features 24/7 troubleshooting, service notifications and hood-cleaning mode. The scalable system can also be expanded and reconfigured as the food hall adds new vendors or cooking equipment changes.
Smarter fire protection for commercial kitchens
Implementing an intelligent, configurable and compliant fire-protection system can offer restaurants visibility into system performance and the flexibility to meet their kitchen’s unique fire-protection needs while minimizing downtime and reducing maintenance costs. By improving safety and reducing costs for the food service industry, a smart system can create new opportunities to simplify traditionally complex commercial kitchen fire-protection needs while providing future-proof expandability.
For more information, go to www.ansulred.com