Maintenance of Kitchen Exhaust Duct (KED) At Coffeeshops and Eateries
The number of Kitchen Exhaust Duct (KED) fires involving coffee shops has been increasing and were mostly found spreading rapidly because of the accumulated grease within ducts that have not been degreased and cleaned timely. These fires could have been avoided if the exhaust ducts (including the interior), kitchen hoods, hood filters and grease drain containers are checked and cleaned regularly.
The coffee shop KED fires have disrupted business operations and pose fire safety risk to stall holders, patrons and residents staying above the premises. We would like to remind that the exhaust ducts (including the interior) and kitchen hoods of your premises must be cleaned and maintained at least once in every 12 months. The work shall be carried out by a specialist and the records of cleaning and degreasing are to be kept by the owner / operator for verification by relevant authority e.g. during the NEA’s yearly licensing inspection or check, it will verify for compliance. Failure to adhere to this fire safety requirement will constitute an offence under the Fire Safety Act.
Some common questions relating to KED were raised and can be found as below for additional reference.
Kitchen Exhaust Duct (KED) FAQs
Q1 I learned that the exhaust ducts (including the interior) and kitchen hoods of coffeeshops are to be cleaned and maintained at least once in every 12 months. Is this mandatory?
Yes it is mandatory. A copy of the SCDF Circular issued is attached at the link below (please see the last paragraph) for reference. Failure to adhere to this fire safety requirement will constitute an offence under the Fire Safety Act. The work shall be carried out by a specialist and the records of cleaning and degreasing are to be kept by the owner / operator for verification by relevant authority e.g. during the NEA’s yearly licensing inspection or SCDF’s inspection/check, it will verify for compliance.
Q2 Why do I have to clean the interior of the KED?
From our past fire statistics, there is an average of 7 KED fires at eating establishment especially coffeeshop every year. There seems to be an increase in the trend of these KED fires in the recent year. When such KED fire occurs, it can cause extensive damage and losses. Many a times, the whole coffeshop is affected. Businesses will have to stop for weeks or even months and much effort to be taken and money spent to restore and resume business. For those coffeeshop that are at the ground floors of residential buildings, there is another dimension of risk. The KED fires also pose life threat to those staying above. There are cases where the KEDs are located close to windows of residential units above and when the KED burns, there is a risk of fire spreading to these residential units. Should there be combustible material such as curtains near windows, the fire could have spread if there is no barrier to stop the flame. The consequence can be dire.
Q3 What happen if I accidentally miss the yearly cleaning of Kitchen Exhaust Duct (KED) ?
Prolong duration of not cleaning the KED could result in accumulation of grease within the system especially when heavy frying common in Zhi Char stalls are involved. The grease could easily be ignited by open flame cooking near the exhaust hood opening and spread rapidly through the interior of the kitchen exhaust system.
Q4 How does such KED fire occur?
From our fire investigation, KED fires usually start small before they spread. There have been cases where it started from extensive open flame cooking or cooking left unattended by the operators. The fire started from the wok or other cooking utensils and then spread to the hood and filters that had not been cleaned for a long time. The accumulated grease and oil stains on these hoods and filters with large surface area are not difficult to ignite if subjected to a flame. It is a good source of fuel to spread the fire. Should the duct also have these accumulated grease and oil stains, the fire will then rapidly spread to the entire duct in a matter of minutes. As these ducts are usually of aluminium construction, it is unable to contain the fire. In no time, the fire in the duct that runs through the entire coffeeshop will spread the fire to other contents in the coffeeshop. Many of these fires have shown that the damage is extensive.
Q5 How can I prevent these KED fires?
From our investigation of these fires, one simple way to prevent these KED fires is to clean the filter, hood and ducts regularly so that there is no accumulated grease and oil stains to spread the fire.
Q6 If I fail to clean my coffeeshop Kitchen Exhaust Duct in accordance to SCDF’s Circular and direction, will it affect my subsequent insurance claim if a fire strikes?
While some insurance companies may not have specifically asked for their KED maintenance/cleaning records at point of insurance contract, owners are expected to follow the regulatory requirement such as cleaning regularly when filing their claim. If a KED fire takes place and our fire investigation findings reveal that the KED has not been maintained in accordance to the mentioned Circular dated 29 May 2014, the insurance policy may not be valid, and affects the operator’s claim eventually.
Q7 What are some of the precautionary measures that my stall holders and I as the coffeeshop operator can take to prevent the Kitchen Exhaust Duct (KED) fire from happening?
Individual stall holders are strongly advised not to leave their cooking unattended, ensure that their stoves, surrounding areas and especially the opening of the KED at each stall are free from grease and oil stains. They must not adopt dangerous practice such as removing baffle filters without replacing new ones when operating kitchen exhaust system. Other key areas to look up for when maintaining and avoiding KED fire include a. emptying grease drain container after daily operation, b. cleaning grease filters and interior of the hood (especially the trough and top of filter rest) weekly or more frequently if under heavy usage and c. duct to be inspected for grease accumulations and cleaned by a qualified contractor.
The operators and stall holders can also refer to the educational materials as enclosed for additional information to prevent KED fires at coffeeshops and eateries.