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    Using a Grease Depth Measurement Tool

    By Mark Conroy

    Although your technicians are trained to service kitchen fire protection systems, your customers might want them to check the grease buildup in the hoods, plenum areas, and duct entrance. Rather than turning away the business, you might consider adding the FireTechTM Grease Comb (P/N FTGC) to your technicians’ toolboxes. Adding a fee for this service is up to you, but using this measuring tool is simple and recognized by NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations.

    Some restaurant managers and owners are unaware that there isn’t a fixed cleaning frequency. NFPA 96 only mandates inspection frequencies as shown in the following table.

    Type of Cooking Operation Inspection Frequency
    Solid fuel cooking operations Monthly
    High-volume cooking operations* Quarterly
    Moderate-volume cooking operations Semi-annually
    Low-volume cooking operations** Annually
    * High-volume cooking operations include 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, and wok cooking.
    ** Low-volume cooking operations include churches, day camps, seasonal businesses, and senior centers.

    The need for cleaning is based on the amount of grease buildup that is determined during the periodic inspections. If the surfaces of the kitchen exhaust system are contaminated with grease, beyond certain limits, the contaminated areas are required to be cleaned. Typically, an exhaust duct cleaning company with trained, experienced personnel is called in to do the cleaning.

    Measuring the amount of grease accumulation is done with a depth gauge comb. The comb is placed so that it is perpendicular to the metal surface. The measurement is determined by scraping the depth gauge along the surface of the metal being examined. Where a measured depth of 2000 microns (0.078 in) is discovered, using the grease comb, the metal surface is required to be cleaned. For critical areas like fan housings, the metal surfaces are required to be cleaned when a measurement of 3175 microns (0.125 in) is found. All hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other equipment are required to be cleaned of contamination to a minimum of 50 microns (0.002 in). All of these measurements are marked on the FireTech™ Grease Comb (P/N FTGC).

    Using the depth gauge comb in this manner improves safety at all cooking establishments with ventilation control equipment. You can increase your revenues by providing this service. But if you decide not to charge a fee, you’ll be improving your customer relations. In either case, you’ll be helping your customer and improving the level of safety in the kitchens that you service.

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