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Poor Preventative Maintenance of Hood Cleaning Causes Fire

Posted on June 09, 2015
by Melissa Asplund

May 27, 2015 was a typical Wednesday evening at the popular Fish Market Restaurant in Downtown San Diego. However, on that particular night, a kitchen fire broke out in the midst of the dinner rush, causing fearful patrons and employees to evacuate quickly. The end result was over $1.2 million in damage to this local eatery. It was determined that the grease buildup in the kitchen hood was the culprit and origin of this devastating fire.


Nobody ever thinks that their business could be subject to a hood fire; but they occur frequently, particularly when it comes to commercial food establishments. This particular fire started when grease built up and ignited due to the heat in the kitchen. The fire traveled up the main ventilation shaft that carries through to the second floor and roof. Without proper, regular maintenance of hood cleaning, these shafts can create a buildup of grease and become an ideal channel in which fire and smoke can travel.


Professional hood cleaning services are often overlooked in the restaurant industry. As the Fish Market has now learned, lives and property are at risk and this misfortune was completely preventable. Professional hood cleaning is a preventative maintenance solution that every business who deals in food preparation should be utilizing.


The rule of kitchen hood cleaning services is set by the National Fire Protection Association’s Code 96 which addresses the “design, installation, operation, inspection, testing, and maintenance of the full spectrum of cooking equipment, hoods, grease removal devices, exhaust duct systems, fans, fire suppression systems, and clearance to combustibles.” For more information regarding how often this service should be performed, please refer to our past Airtek blog titled “Are You Happy with Your Restaurant Hood Cleaning Services?”


At the time of the Fish Market fire in Downtown San Diego, there were approximately 160 guests dining as well as 75 employees present inside the building. There were no injuries reported, but many people were concerned and shoving as they evacuated the building. During the commotion, it was reported that a man snuck into the burning structure in attempt to steal bottles and other valuables. He was arrested on site.


Fifteen to twenty minutes of extinguishing included the main kitchen fire as well as a few more small fires that had spread throughout the heating and air conditioning vents and ducts in the attic area. A total of 35 firefighters were at the scene in order to prevent the fire from spreading. It then took hours to mop up the residual debris and property damage. In this particular incident, there was considerable water damage to the first floor and smoke and fire damage on the second floor leading into the roof area.


It’s a tragedy to see a flourishing business stop in its tracks. The loss of profits and cost of repair and clean up to the owners is overwhelming. Employees lose jobs and patrons start going elsewhere. It was said that the employees from the Fish Market stuck together as a family and spent time saving as much food as possible to donate towards the San Diego Food Bank to help those in need. The Fish Market in San Diego has been open since the 1980’s and it is still unknown when the reputable restaurant will reopen their doors. Davis Restoration is on the scene to help restore the building.


Previously, in the month of February, a well-known bar, Alehouse in young-hearted Pacific Beach, San Diego also suffered over a million dollars in damages due to a grease hood fire. Four months later, Alehouse has yet to reopen for business.


Preventative maintenance is critical for all businesses; and kitchen fires are foreseeable consequences of failing to clean hoods properly or frequently enough. Taking the time to have this equipment inspected is the first step. For a free estimate on maintenance hood cleaning services, contact Airtek Indoor Air Solutions. Airtek is NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaning Association) certified and are experts in preventative maintenance services. No business will succeed with safety hazards looming to cause destruction; eliminate the risk and be proactive instead of reactive.

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