• Restaurants: Resurgence Creates ITM Opportunities

    Over the past year, we have heard that many resilient restaurants have struggled, adapted, and survived the pandemic. Some have become very popular as take-out operations, while others continue operations but at limited capacity. Other restaurants were not so lucky, and many of those buildings are beginning to reopen as different restaurants, with new offerings and very different cooking operations. With more vaccinations and fewer cases of COVID, we are anticipating a resurgence of restaurant business. There is a great opportunity with increased business at restaurants, they all need to ensure their kitchen staff are working in a safe environment and their patrons will remain safe in the event of a fire. The best approach to ensure safety is to perform Inspections, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) of the hood and duct fire extinguishing systems in these restaurants. Here is an overview of the ITM as required by NFPA 96 and 17A, and where the opportunities are, based on these NFPA regulations.

    Restaurant System ITM

    Proper ITM of a restaurant system is required to be conducted every 6 months [96, 12.2.1]. Prior to testing the system, a thorough inspection of all components of the system is conducted, including any replacement of parts that could cause impairment or failure of operation of the system [17A,]. After inspection and replacement of problematic parts, the system is ready for operational testing of both automatic and manual actuation. Prior to testing, the system is disarmed to prevent actual discharge and to allow a test link to be easily installed at the terminal detector bracket. Once the test link is installed, the system is then cocked (armed) and ready for testing. Arming the system simply means that tension is applied to the detection cable (usually moving a spring loaded lever) and simulated operation can occur. Two tests are conducted. Cutting the test link ensures operation of the automatic mode. Installing a new link and operating the pull station(s) tests the operation of the manual mode. If the system does not simulate operation immediately, the ½ inch detection conduit might be clogged with grease, and both the conduit and the stainless steel detection cable needs replacement.

    Fusible Link Replacement Schedule

    The maintenance during the 6-month ITM includes replacement of the all fusible links in the fire extinguishing system. All links are required to be replaced [96, 12.2.4], including the fusible link over each appliance [17A,] and the one located at the entrance to the exhaust duct [17A,].

    Technician Tech Tips:

    1. Replacement of fusible links should be done while the system is disarmed to avoid accidental and unwanted discharge of the system.
    2. The minimum number of replacement links is equal to the sum of all appliances plus one for the exhaust duct entrance.
    3. Although NFPA requires semi-annual replacement of fusible links, excessive grease buildup is a reason to replace them sooner. Make sure to schedule more frequent replacements (such as quarterly) for High-Volume Cooking Operations, including 24-hour cooking, charbroiler cooking, and wok cooking.

    The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the restaurant industry. But there is expected to be a resurgence of restaurants in the coming months. Anticipate and plan for this revival of activity! Schedule ITM for restaurant systems in your area…and for safety sake—remember to replace the fusible links at least every 6 months.

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