Restaurant fires happen more often than people realise.
And very quickly too. An open flame or a tiny spark from an electrical source can kick off a racing fire in just a matter of minutes.
Ensure that your facility is capable of protecting your patrons by having appropriate fire protection and life safety measures in place.
The busy operations can be distracting, so here are some reminders on how you can reduce fire risks in your kitchens.
1. Be compliant with the current fire codes
Always be sure that your facility is in accordance with the current fire codes when you have any work done. Hire a contractor with a clear understanding of local building codes when doing work in your facility. Make it a point to verify the contractor’s familiarity with commercial fire codes.
2. Conduct routine checks and maintenance of fire alarms
Fire alarms are critically important in notifying all occupants of a fire. Quick actions can then be done to ensure that everyone is evacuated safely out of the premises.
Routine maintenance of your fire alarm system is vital. You need to know that they are fully functioning at all times. Refer to your maintenance checklist, so you know what to look out for. Something as a lone smouldering cigarette thrown in the trash bin can quickly become a significant fire if your alarm system does not function.
Do weekly fire alarm tests, done at a set time and day each week, ideally without the presence of guests and patrons. Test from a different call point each week. Rotate your way until each fire alarm has been tested. It is encouraged that when these tests are done, your facility should be fully manned. Ask if any of your staff struggles to hear the fire alarm so you can create a work plan to address it.
Test each smoke alarm after changing batteries.
Also, as much as possible, place your detection devices in areas that are not overly smoky, greasy or even dusty. When installed in improper locations, these detectors can be triggered accidentally. You do not want to create unnecessary panic.
RELATED READ: How To Manage Your Restaurant In Case of a Power Outage
3. Ensure availability and maintenance of fire extinguishers
Typical restaurant fires can usually be controlled using fire extinguishers. There are different classes of extinguishers that are more apt for specific locations in your facility. Check out this additional read on fire extinguishers in restaurant kitchens.
Keep in mind that having a sufficient number of the right type of fire extinguishers present at your facility is not enough. These units need proper maintenance, such as undergoing refill and scheduled tests to provide the protection you need.
4. Maintain the integrity of your fire sprinkler systems and other fire suppression systems
The fire sprinkler system is a vital element of fire protection. It consists of water supply, a water distribution piping system and sprinkler heads installed either in ceilings or sidewalls. When a fire is detected, water is automatically discharged from the sprinklers.
Facilities are required to maintain them per your local codes in your area. Ideally, any gauge on your fire sprinkler or standpipe system that is five-years-old or older and hasn’t had a recent calibration test are considered out-of-date.
Ensure inspection of fire sprinklers at least twice a year by a certified professional.
Build-up caused by corrosion or the accumulation of any sediment can block and compromise a fire sprinkler or standpipe system. If you are having remodelling and repairs done, they can also affect the fire sprinkler system’s integrity.
5. Maintain cleanliness and function of kitchen equipment
The Insurance industry reports that 20% of most commercial kitchen fires are the result of grease buildup in hoods and traps. It can be more efficient to hire a service contractor for heavy equipment cleaning or when there is a massive oil spill. But, cleaning of hoods and traps can also be part of your regular staff tasks.
Your staff should also be familiar which flammable items such as cleaning products should not be stored near kitchen equipment. Familiarity should include proper storage of paper supplies, linens or cardboard boxes. Keep these items away from water heaters or the back of any electrical equipment.
6. Ensure current Fire Safety Training of staff
Fire safety training is a critical must for every employee. When properly trained, they can respond quickly and aptly to emergencies. Each staff member should be trained about the location of fire alarms and how to activate them. They should also be trained in the use of fire extinguishers. All newly hired employees should undergo safety training as a requirement.
Review and practice your established plans for guest evacuations in case of fire at least twice a year. Check out these tips on conducting fire drills.
7. Don’t put off small repairs
Attend minor repairs as soon as possible before they become significant fire hazards.
Issues such as broken switch plates, frayed wirings or sparking outlets, should be dealt with immediately.
Fires can also be caused by damaged cooking equipment. Repair or replace electrical items immediately to avoid being sorry in the long run.
Every business can have unique considerations when it comes to workplace fire risks, your kitchens included. Identifying and managing these risks will dramatically reduce the chances of a fire to occur.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,