A Quick Understanding of NFPA-96 Standard

If you are a commercial kitchen operator, you probably have heard of the NFPA-96 Standard because you have to comply with all its provisions regarding your kitchen exhaust systems. Incompliance with this standard can mean closure of your food business. This standard has changed drastically throughout the years from the first time it was published in 1961 to today. When this fire code was first written by the National Fire Protection Association in 1961, it was just a simple requirement on how one should go about cleaning a kitchen exhaust system. In our present time, it also outlined the specific guidelines on the design, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of the full spectrum of cooking equipment, kitchen hoods, grease removal devices, exhaust duct systems, fans, fire suppression systems and clearance to combustibles.

Basic Guidelines of the NFPA-96 Standard

  1. How often should kitchen exhaust systems be cleaned?

The answer lies on NFPA-96 Standard section 11.4, “the entire exhaust system shall be inspected for grease build up by a properly trained, qualified and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and in accordance with Table 11.4”

Type or Volume of Cooking Frequency Frequency
Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations Monthly
Systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling or work cooking  


Systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations Semi-annually
Systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal business or senior centres  



  1. What is considered clean?

The industry standard is to clean to “bare metal.” According to NFPA-96 Standard section 11.6.2, “Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to remove combustible contaminants prior to surfaces becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge.” The best way to determine if a surface is clean is to inspect it. If it looks like there is an accumulation of grease on a surface, then it probably needs cleaning. You can ask your kitchen hood cleaning contractor for the procedures they can perform to have your whole kitchen exhaust systems cleaned to bare metal.

  1. How is the cleaning reporting done?

NFPA-96 Standard 11.4.13 states, “After cleaning is completed, the vent cleaning contractor shall place or display within the kitchen area a label indicating the date cleaned and the name of the servicing company, as well as areas not cleaned.”

  1. Why are access doors important?

NFPA-96 sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2 recommend installation of openings large enough to permit thorough cleaning at a minimum of every 12 feet of horizontal ductworks and on every floor of vertical ductwork. It is also necessary to have access doors at every change of direction.

  1. What is the responsibility of the owner in regards to cleaning the kitchen hoods?

In accordance to NFPA-96 Standard section 4.1.5, “the responsibility for inspection, testing, maintenance and cleanliness of the ventilation control and fire protection of the commercial cooking operations shall ultimately be that of the owner of the system, provided that this responsibility has not been transferred in written form to management company or other party.”


Kitchen Hood Care Made Easy

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A restaurant is a good business especially if you are a food enthusiast. People from all over the world love exploring different kinds of cuisines. As you prepare and cook your dishes, a lot is going on in your kitchen. A restaurant’s kitchen is busier than a residential one because of the volume of cooking involved. Your kitchen equipment is doing a great job.

However as time passes by, they also get dirty, oily, sticky and grimy. Thus, there is a necessity for regular maintenance and cleaning. An example of kitchen equipment that needs regular maintenance is your kitchen hoods. Although they are often overlooked in the kitchen, kitchen hoods are simply amazing equipment.

Fortunately today, kitchen hood cleaning is made easy. You don’t have to do it on your own. A regulating standard has been established for the proper maintenance and cleaning of your kitchen exhaust system. It also states the proper qualification of the people doing the kitchen hood cleaning job.

Why do you need to clean your kitchen hoods?

First of all, a clean kitchen hood can reduce the risk of fire hazards. Due to grease build-up, along with the other flammable materials inside your restaurant, fire hazard in your kitchen is high. Clog kitchen hoods filled with greases can easily start a fire when ignited.

Your kitchen hoods are wonderful kitchen investment. Proper cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of your kitchen hoods. You can also expect better performance as they will look good as new. In addition, you can expect less repairs and replacement if your kitchen hoods are regularly inspected.

Since your kitchen hoods pull away unwanted odours, smokes and other air pollutants, they improve the air circulation inside your kitchen. When air is cooler, it creates a comfortable working environment for the employees. Also, it will provide a better dining experience for your patrons. This will give them a reason to come and dine in your restaurant.

When air circulation is improved, the health of your employees and customers is not compromised. Bad air circulation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and spread of germs throughout the place is likely to happen. Germs tend to multiply in warmer surrounding so if air circulation is bad, there is also high presence of germs and bacteria in your restaurant.

Regular cleaning and inspection of your kitchen hoods make you compliant to NFPA-96 Standard. Professional kitchen hood cleaning contractors issue a certificate after cleaning as proof of your compliance. This will also help you to stay in the food business industry. It will also make you compliant of your local health rules and regulations. This also includes your building code and inspection.

What is the National Fire Protection Association 96 (NFPA-96)?

The National Fire Protection Association 96 or simply NFPA-96 Standard as everybody knows is the existing regulating standard for cleaning kitchen exhaust systems. Unique conditions in commercial kitchens require special fire safety precautions. It is your single source for state-of-the-art safety guidelines on the design, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of the full spectrum of cooking equipment, kitchen hoods, grease removal devices, exhaust duct systems, fans, fire suppression systems and clearance to combustibles. It was established in 1961 and has changed drastically throughout the years.

Why should you hire qualified persons for the hood cleaning job?

Hood cleaning is quite a tough job to accomplish. Many restaurant owners believe they are getting a complete hood cleaning but they are just getting a hood “washing” in reality. Professional kitchen hood cleaners should know the importance of hood cleaning in your business. Their technicians should provide a thorough cleaning of your kitchen hoods and look for hidden areas where grease build-up is high. They should do an entire inspection of your system properly. They should use modern equipment to clean hard to reach areas in your kitchen hood systems. Their ultimate goal is to give you a total customer satisfaction.

Technicians and supervisors should be licensed and insured so you can be assured that they are qualified for the job. They should be knowledgeable enough of the NFPA-96 Standard required for hood cleaning and use the guidelines provided in the standard in dealing with your kitchen exhaust systems.



Industry Education on Hood Cleaning

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Restaurant owners are legally required to comply with NFPA-96 Standard. This is the reason why they hire professional hood cleaning contractors to do this job. In the part of the kitchen hood cleaning companies, they need to be properly qualified and they need to be knowledgeable enough of this standard to be able to perform hood cleaning.

Several associations have been formed to educate kitchen exhaust cleaners on all the provisions and sections of the NFPA-96 Standard and on the best practices and standards for kitchen exhaust cleaning. Some of these are the following:

  • International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaners Association (IKECA)
  • Member of the NFPA Education Section
  • Hood Cleaning School
  • Power Wash University
  • Power Washers of North America
  • Certified Hood and Duct Cleaners Association

Each of these organization has its own philosophies, but they all have the goal of improving the kitchen exhaust cleaning industry. Kitchen hood cleaning operators must have at least enrolled in one of these organizations to be properly qualified for the hood cleaning jobs. Though it may seem easy, hood cleaning is also a tough job as you have to deal with all the parts of the kitchen exhaust systems. Some kitchens have complex kitchen hood systems which make hood cleaning a little bit difficult. They also have to deal with all the duct works related to the entire system. They need to properly clean your kitchen hoods while protecting your kitchen appliances at the same time. A responsible kitchen hood cleaning operator is knowledgeable enough of the existing standard to give the best customer satisfaction.

Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning

Kitchens are very important part of any structure, be it commercial or residential. This is the place where you prepare and cook the food you will eat. You kitchen appliances are doing a great job. However, in return, your kitchen can be the dirtiest part of your house or restaurant. Why? It is because of the little crumbs, smoke and greases that are left behind after cooking.

You need to do a lot of cleaning to keep your kitchen free from harmful germs. You can properly clean the kitchen surfaces and window glasses. But how will you clean your kitchen hoods? Fortunately, you don’t need to get all dirty and full of grease to clean your kitchen hoods. There are already a lot of professional kitchen hood cleaning operators which you can hire for the job.

Why do you need professional kitchen hood cleaning?

To start, let’s define kitchen hood cleaning. It is the process of removing any accumulated grease inside the ducts and vents of your kitchen hoods. A thorough cleaning of your kitchen hoods involved all the ducts, fans, and all associated ductworks. A much stricter compliance of kitchen hood cleaning is being implemented if you are a commercial kitchen operator. You need professional kitchen hood cleaning for the following reasons:

  • To minimize fire hazard

Your kitchen hoods over time are filled with grease and other grimes which are not good. Grease is a contributing factor for a fire to occur. In any state- solid, liquid or vapour form, grease can ignite easily. Regularly cleaning your kitchen hoods will save your investment in structure and your people. It can prevent occurrence of a restaurant fire.

  • To be compliant with the existing regulation

The standard governing the proper cleaning of kitchen hoods is outlined in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 96 (NFPA-96 Standard) otherwise known as the Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations. This regulation provides the minimum fire safety standards related to the design, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. All commercial kitchen operators are required of full cooperation and compliance of this standard.

  • To create an improve air circulation inside the kitchen

If your kitchen hoods are clogged with grease, the air inside your kitchen can be polluted. Also, the overall ambiance of your kitchen will not be good. There is also a high presence of carbon monoxide in your kitchen which is not good for the human body. A high level of carbon monoxide can cause poisoning. If your kitchen hoods are clean, air circulation is improved inside your kitchen.

  • To create a cooler working environment

If the air circulation inside your kitchen is improved, it will create a cooler environment for you and your kitchen employees. It will also give them a comfortable working environment for their jobs.

  • To maximize your kitchen equipment’s performance

Since kitchen hood cleaning improves the air circulation inside the kitchen, it also increases the efficiency and performance of your equipment. In a businessman’s point of view, more efficient kitchen equipment means more production at lower costs. In the long run, you will be saving on your energy bills and maintenance costs as well.

How often do you need kitchen hood cleaning?

Exhaust hood cleaning requirements and best practices are stated in NFPA-96 Standard section 11.4, including the frequency of cleaning for all the types of commercial kitchens:

  • Monthly- These are for systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
  • Quarterly- These are for systems serving high-volume operations, such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, work cooking, etc.
  • Semi-annually- These are for systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations
  • Annually- These are for systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal business or senior centres

The standard also states that kitchen hood cleaning should be done by properly qualified cleaning experts to ensure a proper and thorough cleaning of your kitchen hoods. Check if your hired kitchen hood cleaning operators are licensed and are insured for the job. After cleaning, they will issue you a certificate to prove of your compliance with the existing standard. This certificate is what you will show to authorities upon inspection your establishment.



Why is Grease the Enemy of Profits in Restaurants?

Clean hood Exhaust

Kitchen restaurants are always busy due to the tremendous amounts of cooking process involved. While the chef is doing all the cooking, your kitchen appliances are also working hard doing their specific functions. Over time, your kitchen hoods are affected because of grease build-up. A grease build-up is an indication that your kitchen hoods are already dirty and in need of immediate cleaning. A high presence of grease inside your kitchen can cause a kitchen fire. It can ignite in whatever form. There are three contributing factors that must be present in order for a fire to start. These are heat, oxygen or air, and fuel. Removing one or more factors can avoid fire. You cannot remove the heat since it is the primary source of your cooking, nor you cannot suppress air. The only thing you can do is to suppress grease from accumulating and building up in your kitchen hoods.

How does grease accumulate in your kitchen hoods?

Commercial kitchens create varying levels of grease exhaust depending on the type of food they cook. Solid fuel cooking, grills, wok cooking and high volume fryer operations all create a greater volume of grease exhaust. Even low volume cooking operations will also have to deal with traces of oil, grease and dirt accumulating over time on the surface of ventilation ducts.

Highly flammable creosote build-up from solid-fuel cooking such as a wood burning pizza oven can create a hazardous situation when combined with other grease deposits. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) the combination of grease and creosote in exhaust ducts can be easier to ignite than creosote alone and can burn even hotter.

Even if you use the proper hood filters, a certain amount of grease will definitely find its way in. During cooking, fats, oils and greases become vaporized and are drawn up to your exhaust system.

What does grease do to your kitchen hoods?

With continuous cooking in your kitchen, grease can clog your kitchen hoods. A high build-up of grease can impose risk of fire hazard. Also, air is trapped inside the kitchen. It cannot circulate properly because the kitchen hoods which are supposedly pulling away the smoke and odours are clogged. It will also give you a hot environment which is not comfortable for kitchen work. Carbon monoxide is also present which can affect the foods you serve. High presence of this gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If your kitchen hoods are clogged with grease, it can also affect your customers. No one would like to eat in a restaurant with an unpleasant ambience and smell. A customer wants to eat at a restaurant where the food is prepared in a safe manner.

Grease is an enemy of profit for your food business because if not removed right away, it can cause a restaurant fire. A restaurant fire can be devastating because it can lead to loss of property and worse, loss of lives.