What Is UL 300?
If you own a restaurant or other business with a commercial kitchen, you must abide by UL 300. If you’re not familiar with this fire testing standard, now is the time to learn the specific requirements and make sure your commercial kitchen is up to code and safe for your employees and patrons.
Fire Testing Standards in Commercial Kitchens
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) administers this fire testing standard, formally known as Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishing Systems for Protection of Restaurant Cooking Areas. Appliance companies wanting to earn UL labels on their products must submit individual models to UL for testing. Then, if the appliances meet specific requirements, they are approved and certified as UL 300.
History of UL 300
In late 1994, the Underwriters Laboratories unveiled a new test standard entitled UL 300. It came about as the result of changes in commercial kitchen fire hazards.
Change in Cooking Oils
Before UL 300 went into effect, most commercial kitchens fried food with animal fat (lard), and because of that, dry chemicals were the standard fire suppression method. Today, vegetable oils are used 70 to 75 percent of the time. These oils are considered superior, not only because they are healthier than lard, but also because they heat to consistent cooking temperatures quicker and cool slower.
Improvements in Deep Fryers
Deep fryers have also improved, with recent models featuring excellent heat retention and insulation features, resulting in a more efficient cooking experience.
Unfortunately, these factors also increase fire hazards in cooking areas, which is why UL recognized the need for a new set of standards and developed UL 300 when the shift from lard to vegetable oils was taking place.
One important requirement of UL 300 is that deep fryers use wet chemical fire suppression systems. Like dry chemical systems, wet chemicals are able to effectively smother and put out the fire, but they serve a second purpose that dry chemicals can’t accomplish: cool the oil so it doesn’t reignite. This is of utmost importance when putting out vegetable oil fire since these oils have an auto-ignition temperature of 685 degrees F or hotter (compared to 550 to 600 degrees F for lard), which is only further enhanced by high-efficiency, heat-retaining fryers.
Overview of UL 300 in Commercial Kitchens
UL 300-compliant commercial kitchens have certain characteristics, including the following:
- Nozzles are located in the hood and duct as well as over each individual cooking appliance.
- A manual pull station that sets off the fire alarm system is located within the kitchen.
- Both gas and electric appliances have automatic fuel shut-offs.
- A UL 300-compliant wet chemical fire suppression system is used to smother fires.
In addition to installing appliances and kitchen features that meet the UL 300 standard, you must also take certain measures to remain up to code. These include the following:
- Have the wet chemical fire suppression system serviced twice a year by a licensed fire protection company.
- Have the hood and ductwork maintained and cleaned twice a year by a licensed service company.
- Clean the baffle filter weekly or as recommended based on the type of cooking you conduct.
Restaurant Fire Suppression Systems in Houston, TX
Before you move, modify, or rearrange the appliances in your Houston commercial kitchen, contact the system installer or a licensed fire protection company. These professionals will reevaluate the fire extinguishing system and help you develop a new arrangement that meets UL 300 standards.
To learn more about updating the fire suppression system in your Houston area kitchen, please contact us. We’re here to help you protect your restaurant against fire hazards and emergencies.
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