When you operate a restaurant, safety is one of your top concerns. Not only can disastrous situations occur to put your customers and employees at risk, but they can damage your business property and reputation as well.
Kitchen fires among the largest risks with a restaurant, due to the various chemicals, flames and cooking oils that are frequently used in the kitchen. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that nearly 8,000 establishments report a fire a year, which cost businesses $246 million a year in property damage.
Take these important tips for reducing your risk for kitchen fires into consideration:
Perform Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance is absolutely essential in your eating and drinking establishment’s kitchen. There are a number of hazards that you might not notice right away, but show up during your scheduled maintenance. For example, the electrical wiring or connections in your kitchen might have issues, which could become a major fire hazard for anything close to the power sources. You should also have grease buildup cleaned on a regular basis. All tools and equipment in the kitchen need to be inspected regularly and repaired. Don’t use appliance or tool that is indicating a problem, because it could mean a higher risk for catastrophe.
Have Emergency Tools on hand
Preventative measures are only the beginning; you should also have emergency tools on hand that can reduce the size of the kitchen fire. Small fires may still occur sometimes, but if you have an automatic fire suppression system installed in the kitchen, it will be out very quickly. Since over half of restaurant fires involve the cooking equipment, this severely reduces your risk for a fire. Chemicals will be dispensed to put out the flames of a small fire before it gets out of hand.
You also want to have one or more portable fire extinguisher in the kitchen just in case you need it. The Class K fire extinguishers work for oils, grease and fat when burned at high temperatures, so this is the type you should have in your kitchen.
Train Your Kitchen Staff Properly
Kitchen staff should always be trained in preventing kitchen fires and putting them out quickly with the fire extinguisher. They must learn how to use the extinguisher so they can help cut down on the damage from the fire. You should also train your employees by teaching them to:
- Clean up oil, fat and grease from kitchen surfaces.
- Being extra careful with ashes from a wood-burning oven.
- Not attempting to use water to stop a grease fire.
- Not throwing away lit cigarettes in trash cans.
- Keeping paper products and linens from cooking sources.
- Storing flammable liquids in the right location.
- Have an Emergency Evacuation Plan.
Emergency Evacuation Plan
There may be moments when the prevention didn’t work, and you need to get your customers and employees out safely. Create anevacuation plan for such emergencies, by designating staff members to help with evacuation. This person will call 911 and keep people calm until they get out safely. You should also have someone that can turn off the electrical and gas power supply during a fire.
After attempting to prevent a restaurant kitchen fire in any way you can, offer your business protection with a business property insurancepolicy. This will cover damages from a fire.