What is UL 300?
On November 21, 1994, Underwriters Laboratories, a safety consulting and certification company, introduced the UL 300 Standard for Testing of Fire Extinguishing Systems for the Protection of Restaurant Cooking Surfaces. UL 300 was established in response to changes in cooking styles, processes and equipment present in modern commercial kitchens. Restaurant fires were becoming increasingly difficult to suppress and contain due to these changes, and the creation of UL 300 addressed these issues.
Behind UL 300
Before 1994, commercial cooking involved primarily animal fat. In an effort to lower the fat and cholesterol content of food, restaurants began switching to vegetable oils. Vegetable oils burn at higher temperatures, however, making fires more difficult to suppress. Additionally, modern and high-efficiency cooking appliances add to the challenge of total fire protection because they are well-insulated and slow to cool. Dry chemical systems that worked well on these appliances in the past are no longer capable of suppressing and sustaining an extinguished fire. UL 300 systems require wet chemical agents to suppress the fire, similar to how dry chemical systems worked. They also cool materials so they don’t reignite, which dry chemical agents cannot do.
What are the Requirements for a UL 300 system?
Fire suppression systems that are UL 300-compliant must use a wet chemical agent. Wet chemicals smother (suppress flammable vapors) the fire, but they also cool the source so it can’t reignite. Keep in mind that although a system may be labeled as “wet chemical,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it is UL 300-compliant. In addition to using a wet chemical agent, UL 300 systems must also include:
- Nozzles located in the hood and duct
- Nozzles located over each grease generating cooking appliance
- Manual pull station
- Automatic fire detection system
- Automatic fuel shut-offs for gas and electric
- Hood and duct maintenance and cleaning semi-annually by an authorized licensed service company
- Wet chemical system serviced semi-annually by an authorized licensed service company
We must assume that there will be a small number of sellers/installers who will attempt to furnish either new or used systems that were tested to the former standard. Such fire suppression systems would be inadequate to deliver the additional coverage found to be necessary for today’s fire hazards.
Having UL 300-compliant fire suppression systems is more than simply a requirement for your restaurant. It’s a critical step in protecting your employees, your customers and your livelihood.
For additional information on UL-300 extinguishing systems or other fire prevention and suppression systems, contact the Risk Improvement Department of EMC Insurance Companies.