Recipe for Protection
When should cooking equipment be protected?
NFPA Journal®, November/December 2009
The protection of cooking equipment isn’t a new topic, but it’s one I’m often asked about when I teach seminars and consult. Many people think all cooking equipment, except that in one- and two-family dwellings, must be protected, so let me offer a bit of clarification.
Section 9.2.3 of the 2009 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, entitled "Commercial Cooking Equipment," refers to the 2008 edition of NFPA 96, Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations, the scope of which is to "provide the minimum fire safety requirements (preventative and operative) related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations." NFPA 96 also applies to residential cooking equipment used for commercial cooking operations. However, it excludes residential cooking equipment in kitchens equipped with a fire extinguisher, as long as the facility is not an assembly occupancy, and where the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) has approved the installation.
Section 1.1.4 of NFPA 96 is particularly interesting, as it excludes residential equipment but requires AHJ approval. Section 1.2 states that "the purpose of this standard shall be to reduce the potential fire hazard of cooking operations, irrespective of the type of cooking equipment used and whether used in public or private facilities."
The Life Safety Code clarifies when protection is required and when it isn’t. NFPA 96 is only mandated when Section 9.2.3 of the Life Safety Code specifically references it. Section 9.2.3 makes clear in its reference to "commercial cooking equipment" that residential-type equipment need not comply with NFPA 96. Section 3.2, "Protection from Hazards," of each occupancy chapter of the Life Safety Code then has specific references to exclude residential cooking equipment used for limited cooking or to warm food.
The occupancy chapters for assembly, mercantile, and business occupancies state that cooking equipment must be protected in accordance with Section 9.2.3, unless it is outdoor equipment, portable equipment not connected to a flue, or used only to warm food. In educational occupancies, cooking facilities must also be protected in accordance with Section 9.2.3, as must cooking facilities in detention and correctional occupancies. Domestic cooking equipment used for food warming or limited cooking in day-care occupancies need not be protected where approved by the AHJ. And domestic cooking equipment used for limited cooking or to warm food in health care and ambulatory health care occupancies need not be protected or installed in separate food preparation facilities. No special AHJ approval is specified.
The Life Safety Code’s industrial and storage occupancy chapters do not mention the protection of cooking equipment, and no special provisions for the protection of residential-type cooking equipment are included in residential occupancy chapters.
The Life Safety Code recognizes that a ventilation hood and fixed extinguishing system may not be required for typical residential cooking equipment. In some occupancies, however, the AHJ may be required to approve the cooking equipment installation. And a dining area with an occupant load of 50 or more people in any occupancy is considered an assembly area and must therefore comply with the NFPA 96 requirements for assembly occupancies, although fixed protection and a ventilation system may not be required where a residential stove is installed for limited cooking or to warm food.
Chip Carson, P.E., is president of Carson Associates, Inc., a fire engineering and code consultancy. He is a former member of NFPA's Board of Directors.