Outdoor Kitchen Fire in Florida: The importance of the vent hood.

Outdoor Kitchen Fire.

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Have you ever left your grill on after grilling? This is a common mistake that happens when cooking outside. I know I am guilty of this BBQ sin and I can not stress how important it is to turn off your grill when you are finished grilling. There has recently been a case in Florida where somebody forgot to turn off their when they finished cooking. The consequence was that their entire outdoor kitchen caught on fire.

A fire like this should never happen! Even in the case of leaving your grill on after you're finished cooking food. Unfortunately for this person their outdoor kitchen was not installed properly and they paid the price.

After meeting with this client we found out that whoever built their outdoor kitchen did not use the right precautions and did not pay mind to the Florida Building Codes. If these measures were put into place from the beginning then the fire would have been prevented altogether. Below are two issues with the construction in which caused the kitchen to set fire.

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The Cause of the Fire.

1. Combustible Materials are a Bad Idea

First, the cabinets were made from combustible materials. When something that is combustible gets over heated it will catch fire! In this specific case the cabinets were made from wood in which overheated and caught fire.

2. No Vent Hood

The Second and the biggest problem was that there was no vent hood. Vent hoods are of great importance. They are designed to catch and dispose of contaminates and heat from grilling. If a vent hood was in place and running, the area would not have heated to such high temperatures. We consulted the Chief Inspector at the Developmental Services in Tampa, Florida.

Not only is it a good idea to have a vent hood installed in your outdoor kitchen, but it mandatory according to "Florida Building Code 2010-Fuel Gas Volume section 623.1."  When you have a an outdoor kitchen under a roof a vent hood must be installed. David Howdshell further explains the purpose of the vent hood.

The best way to explain the purpose of the hood is to understand that while grilling food, especially meat products, some of the fat present in the meat is turned to atomized grease and rises on the column of heat produced by the burners. When under an overhang or roof it rises to the underside of the overhang and when it contacts the cooler surface it attaches to it. In time the building up of grease gets to the point that is a fire hazard which can and will ignite, usually when there is a flare up or flames from the grill, effectively setting the structure on fire.

A ventilation hood captures the column of heated air and grease and by the use of a fan and metal ducting, sized appropriately for the b.t.u. rating of the appliance, it directs the grease laden vapors to a point of safe exhaust.
— David Howdeshell | Chief Inspector - Plumbing/Mechanical/Fuel Gas Planning and Development Services
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Fires are a serious matter and nobody wants their outdoor kitchen to burn to the ground. Luckily, for this person they made it home in the nick of time. The fire inspector said that if they would have got home any later the entire house would have burned down.

Precautionary Measures.

  • Make sure that the company you are dealing with are experienced in the outdoor living & design industry
  • Make sure you install a vent hood if you are building your outdoor kitchen under a roof (though the builder should know this).
  • Don't build your cabinets with combustible materials.
  • And finally, remember to turn your grill off after cooking.

At Premier Outdoor Living & Design we make sure to stay educated on the Florida Building Codes. With over 20 years in the construction industry and 10 years of experience in the outdoor kitchen industry we construct with confidence and carefully craft your outdoor living space. If you want to speak with a professional about building a premier outdoor living space you can contact us here.