Fire is what drives the kitchen. “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” When fire is under our control it does our bidding. But fire is a dangerous beast when let loose and can quickly humble even the most skilled chefs.
To avoid the devastating effects of a commercial kitchen fire follow the safety recommendations outlined in this guide.
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1. Clean Up Grease
Cleaning the kitchen is an important part of fire safety. Grease is highly flammable. When fire gets out of control it will look for sources of combustible energy.
Grease that builds up in the kitchen is literally fuel for the fire. Make sure you have a thorough and regular cleaning schedule that includes cleaning off all built up grease from surfaces.
2. Maintain Cooking Equipment
57% of restaurant fires are due to cooking equipment. Make sure all equipment is in proper working order and is fitted with modern fire suppression systems.
These systems shut down gas and electrical in the case of fire, and can mean the difference between a flare up and a devastating fire. Have your fire suppression systems inspected by a professional.
3. Ensure Sprinkler System Works
Your kitchen’s automatic sprinkler system will kick in when the fire gets large enough to activate sprinklers in the ceiling.
At this point the fire has gotten very large and no one should be in the kitchen. The sprinklers are your last defense against an out of control kitchen fire and may be the difference between a burned kitchen and a burned down restaurant.
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4. Have Backup Extinguishers
If the fire grows larger, fast acting crew members are needed to douse the flames with powerful fire extinguishers.
Fire extinguishers can make the difference between being down for the night and being down for weeks — or forever.
Make sure fire extinguishers are inspected regularly so they’re ready when you are.
5. Provide Proper Training
All kitchen staff should have training on how to quickly deal with different types of fires effectively. In case of fire, time is of the essence.
More importantly kitchen staff needs to perform their duties in a safe way—preventing fires before they happen by maintaining good practices.
6. Keep Flammable Material Away From Flames
Fire needs a source of fuel. One of the ways fires get out of control is when something that shouldn’t be close to the flames catches on fire.
This could be food, clothing, paper or commonly, towels used to hold hot pans. Keeping an organized kitchen work area is crucial to preventing fires. Cooks should always be aware of the flame and what is nearby.
7. Watch Electrical Cords
Not all equipment fires are from the range. Be very mindful of electrical equipment as restaurants are also susceptible to electrical fires.
There are a lot of electrical appliances that are run in the restaurant. Simultaneously running appliances can create a burden on your restaurant’s electrical system.
Over time electrical cables may fray or melt. Poorly designed wall outlets may become damaged. Instruct employees to look for obvious damage and report it to management.
Schedule periodic inspections by a professional to look for less obvious electrical issues.
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8. Degrease The Ventilation System
The ventilation system is one of the most volatile and subject to multiplying the effect of a restaurant fire. The entire system is a trap for grease, smoke and particles that are violently combustible.
The hood, the fan and the ductwork should be inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent buildup. The NFPA Fire Code is a national standard and requires inspections to be made several times a year.
9. Never Throw Water on a Grease Fire
While people are reacting quickly to an out of control fire the worst thing they can do is throw water. Most kitchen fires are grease fires.
Because of the nature of a grease fire this reaction will only spread the flames higher and likely cause injury! This is why it’s important to have properly trained cooks.
A grease fire should be smothered if it can be done safely.
10. Don’t Dispose of Cigarettes Indoors
Another source of kitchen fires comes from the habit of smoking cigarettes. Many workers in the restaurant industry indulge in this practice but it can be dangerous for more people than just the smoker.
Cigarettes should never be disposed of in a receptacle with combustible materials, and never indoors. A cigarette that appears to be extinguished very often still has embers.
It only takes a spark and the right flammable material to grow into a serious fire that can destroy your business.
BONUS: Have An Escape Plan
When a fire grows uncontrollable it’s time to get out. Having an escape plan can mean the difference between life and death.
Your restaurant fire escape plan must be designed to avoid causing a stampede, which can cause injury to yourself, restaurant employees and guests. It should never be done in a panic.
Drill with your crew on safe fire evacuation procedures ahead of time.
Preventing commercial kitchen fires takes constant vigilance. It demands a proper cleaning regime, safety systems that are inspected regularly and well trained staff who are not careless with fire and combustible material. If a fire does get out of hand, it’s imperative that you have a safe evacuation plan for your employees and guests.
With careful planning and regular maintenance you can reduce the chances of a commercial kitchen fire affecting your restaurant.
This guide is part of the free resource library provided by Rezku. Rezku is a leading restaurant management technology solutions provider. Learn more about Rezku on our home page. Schedule a free consultation today and find out why restaurant owners across America choose Rezku for their restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cafes.