5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Kitchen From Fire
Preventing fires in your kitchen is important, but you may not realize just how great the risk is. According to a report compiled by FEMA, the leading cause of restaurant fires is cooking. This probably comes as no surprise, as having a hot grill or open gas flames in close proximity to flammable cooking oils, is a recipe for potential disaster.
Luckily, there are 5 simple steps you can take, to protect your kitchen from fire. These don’t take much time or effort, but they can dramatically reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.
Step #1: Don’t Leave Cooking Unattended
This step is common sense, but it is sometimes tempting to leave the kitchen while you are cooking. If you are frying, broiling or grilling any items, you shouldn’t leave for even a minute or two. If you need to step away, be sure to turn off the burners or oven first.
Step #2: Clean Off Grease Residue
Grease has a tendency to build up, and if you don’t clean off this residue on a regular basis, you’ll be more at risk for a fire. Focus your efforts on your grill top, around the burners, the backsplash behind them, the counters beside them and on the ventilation hood above.
While regular cleaning by you and your staff is essential, professional deep-cleaning of your kitchen’s exhaust system at regular intervals is highly recommended to ensure the flammable residue doesn’t build up in your exhaust system and duct work.
Step #3: Create Separation
A deep fryer is an essential piece of equipment in many commercial kitchens, yet it must be handled with care. It is a potential source of fuel for a grease fire, and you should check that proper preventative measures are in place.
This includes having at least a sixteen inch separation between the fryer and any appliances which use open flames. If your kitchen is too small to do so, another option is to place a metal divider that is at least sixteen inches tall, between your fryer and any open flame appliance.
Step #4: Move Flammable Items
Cloth material and your grill don’t mix, but people often fail to respect this fact as they should. After cooking day in and day out with no accidents, you or your kitchen staff may be less careful than you ought to be. It is recommended that you keep flammable items like dish towels, hot pads, oven mitts, paper towels and even cookbooks far away from the grill or burners.
This is especially important should a grease fire in one of your skillets or pans erupt. With the right fire extinguisher you should be able to quench it quickly, but if it spreads to combustible items it will be harder to put out.
Step #5: Provide Training
One of the best ways to protect your kitchen, is to have your staff trained on fire safety or fire extinguisher use by a qualified authority on the subject. This can give them the knowledge they need, to prevent fires from occurring.
If one does break out, they will also be prepared to extinguish it both quickly and safely. This is a wise investment, as having properly trained staff is not only required by OSHA in some cases, but it can help protect your valuable property and the safety of the people on site at your facility.
The Imporantance of Standard Measures
These 5 simple steps can help you protect your kitchen from fire, when combined with all of the standard measures required by code. These include a proper fire suppression system, class K fire extinguishers (for grease fires) and smoke detectors. It is critical that all of these be regularly inspected and properly maintained, to ensure that they will work correctly in the event of a fire.
This will not only safeguard your valuable property, but help you to avoid costly code violations, maintain compliance so your insurance policy remains in effect and ensure the safety of your staff and patrons.