Today, private restaurant owners, as well as fast food franchises are required to adhere to certain ventilation standards for their commercial kitchens. Such ventilation practices are part of regulations set by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the United States Department of Labor. You can borrow a leaf from their page to ensure your commercial kitchen also lives up to expected standards.
1. Acknowledge the safety hazards
Ventilation in commercial kitchens is a necessary feature given the many possible hazards in the kitchen environment. First, the kitchen personnel exclusively work with fire in a relatively enclosed environment. Then, the commercial kitchen environment is characterized by flammable substances such as grease as well as respiratory hazards including smoke and heat. Without proper ventilation, a small fire can quickly escalate to an inferno. A fire in a poorly ventilated environment may render other safety measures such as fire extinguishers obsolete.
2. Choose a proper kitchen layout
A proper layout for your commercial kitchen should accommodate all sectors including the food preparation area, meal cooking area, service area, cleaning and washing area, as well as the storage area for both food and kitchenware. It also should accommodate the six principles of any commercial kitchen, which are simplicity, ease of sanitation, modularity, ease of supervision and space efficiency. The Island-style and gourmet layouts are the most popular settings for commercial kitchens as they provide ample space for movement and emergency response.
3. Position the cooking appliances correctly
Ventilation standards for commercial kitchens require strategic placement of kitchen appliances in a manner that reduces chances of kitchen fires. This is mostly determined by the kitchen layout you opt for. The island layout, for instance, allows for most if not all kitchen appliances to be mounted on the wall leaving enough room for movement as well as proper exhaust-hood installation.
4. Proper exhaust hood installation
There are two vent-hood installation layouts; overhead and wall mounted. Wall mounted hoods are more effective as they offer more stability compared to overhead ones. Place the hoods strategically above cooking appliances for optimum smoke and grease capture.
5. Use fire-suppression hoods
Invest in exhaust hoods with fire suppression capabilities. Such vent hoods come with nozzles just above the hood, which discharge fire-extinguishing chemicals directly at the source of fire outbreak. This is significant as fire caused by grease spreads really quickly. The fire suppressors provide immediate and effective remedy.
6. Invest in a makeup air system
Apart from the conventional HVAC system that is connected to the vent hoods overhanging your kitchen appliances, a makeup air system is necessary to increase the free flow of fresh air to your commercial kitchen. The heat, grease, and smoke from the kitchen may not be absorbed by the vent hoods as fast as they are produced. The makeup air system comes to the rescue by increasing the flow of fresh air. New Braunfels air conditioning professionals can install a makeup air system as they install the HVAC and the vent hoods for your commercial kitchen.
HVAC experts are vital to proper kitchen ventilation. Therefore, ensure you consult one even before you settle for your kitchen layout of choice. Chances are, the air conditioning and heating experts will offer better insight on the most effective layouts for optimal ventilation for your commercial kitchen.