Not only are restaurants a busy, active place, but they can also be a dangerous place if not properly prepared. With open flames, hot equipment, cooking oils and cleaning products, the risk for fire in a commercial kitchen is high. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 8,000 establishments on average have a kitchen fire each year, causing more than $246 million in property damage.
However, there are some steps that you can take to mitigate the risk of fire in your commercial kitchen. Fire safety in restaurants is easy to initiate, and just takes a little planning and training on the business owner’s part. There are easy steps you can take to keep your staff, kitchen and building safe, prevent fires and minimize the damage.
Kitchen Fire Preventative Maintenance
Completing regular preventative maintenance can go a long way in fire prevention in a restaurant. There are some quick, easy tips you and your staff can do regularly to prevent a kitchen fire in your commercial restaurant.
Automatic fire-suppression system – You will want to ensure your kitchen is equipped with an automatic fire-suppression system, which will help dispense chemicals and suppress flames, should there be a fire. These systems often have a manual switch as well, so you can activate the system whenever it is necessary. Activating this system will automatically shut down the electric or fuel supply to nearby cooking equipment, which is crucial, because more than half of commercial restaurant kitchens involve cooking equipment. This is the first step toward fire safety in restaurants, and should be done before you open your doors.
Fire extinguishers – In addition to an automatic fire-suppression system, you should also have several portable fire extinguishers on hand and ensure your staff knows how to use these and where they are located. You will need class K extinguishers, which are best for fire involving grease, fats and oils burning at high temperatures. You can keep additional class ABC extinguishers in other locations in the restaurant for other fires, like paper, wood or electrical fires.
Regular maintenance – All electrical equipment in your kitchen should be subject to routine inspections and regular maintenance. This will help you or your service provider catch hazards like frayed cords or wiring, cracked or broken switch plates, or improperly stored combustible items near the power source. If you notice an issue with any of your electrical equipment, make fixing the equipment a top priority. Not only will this save you money in the long run, but it can also be a huge preventative step when it comes to fires.
Exhaust system cleaning – You should have your kitchen exhaust system, hood, fans and duct work cleaned regularly by a professional commercial kitchen HVAC system cleaning company in Honolulu. Your exhaust system oversees removing grease, oils, fats, debris and other pollutants from the air in your kitchen, which not only keeps your staff happy, but also helps regulate temperature, remove smells and keep the air clean. However, these pollutants can get trapped in the hood and exhaust system and need to be regularly cleaned in order to keep functioning properly. In general, duct work and exhaust systems should be inspected quarterly and cleaned several times a year, depending upon use and size.
Staff Fire Prevention Training
Staff training is also an important part of preventing fires in commercial kitchens. In addition to having the infrastructure in place to prevent fires and deal with them if they arise, your staff should also be aware of proper operating procedures to maintain a safe kitchen. Teach staff to:
- Find and use fire extinguishers, and which extinguishers should be used in certain situations.
- Clean up grease on exhaust hoods, work spaces, walls, ovens, ranges, fryers, grills, vents and filters.
- How to clean wood- and charcoal-burning ovens, including removing ashes and storing these ashes outside in metal containers at least 10 feet away from the building and any combustible materials.
- Storage of flammable liquids and other potentially combustible materials.
- Proper use of chemical solutions and how to clean up chemical spills.
- Other tips to avoid fire hazards, and how to deal with emergency situations if they arise.
Have a Plan in Place
Sometimes, fires do happen. Whether by a mistake in the kitchen or a total fluke accident, a restaurant may experience a kitchen fire. That is why your staff should be trained in fire safety and how to handle the emergency situation. Have a plan in place if a fire does break out in your kitchen, and train staff on the following:
- Power down
At least one person on the premises should know how to shut off gas and electrical power in case of an emergency.
- Evacuation plan
Should you need to evacuate, you should have one person on staff at all times who is in charge of the evacuation plan. This includes determining when an evacuation is necessary, calling 911 and ensuring everyone exits the restaurant safely. All staff should know where the emergency exits are and be prepared to guide customers to these.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Are you ready to take the first steps toward fire safety in your commercial kitchen? The easiest step is to start a regular cleaning and maintenance routine for cleaning your exhaust system. Contact the team at Airpro Indoor Air Solutions today to schedule your regular maintenance and cleaning.