Preventing Restaurant Kitchen Fires

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.

Risks of a Quick Service Restaurant

Operating a quick service, or fast food, restaurant offers its share of potential rewards. There is no doubt about that. However, it is a mistake to dismiss or overlook a few serious risks restaurant owners in this industry must consider as well. These are a few of the high-profile risks quick service restaurant owners’ face in today’s marketplace.


Power Outages


Power outages are frustrating at any time. However, when you’re the owner of a fast food restaurant, it can mean bad things for your business. Refrigeration units and freezers require electricity to keep food at the proper temperatures to avoid spoilage. Stoves and warming equipment require electricity to keep foods properly warm so that they don’t spoil either. And that’s simply a few of the short-term problems associated with power outages. For outages that last several hours or even days, you’re looking at lost revenue on top of food spoilage costs.


Equipment Breakdowns


In addition to breakdowns being inconvenient, they never happen right before you’re going to close for a few days or anything like that, they can also be quite expensive. However, most restaurants don’t purchase frivolous equipment. This means that if it’s broken down, it’s needed and must be prepared right away. This brings about additional labor costs for the repairs because they’re always emergencies.


Food Spoilage and Contamination


In a perfect world, food would never spoil or become contaminated. Despite your best efforts, as a restaurant manager, to follow proper safety protocols in relation to the foods you serve, spoilage and contamination are part of the business. It’s a normal risk and one you must be prepared to deal with when the need arises. Whether it’s a nationwide recall from the manufacturer, human error somewhere along the supply chain, or the result of equipment failure in your own restaurant, food spoilage does happen. Dealing with it properly makes a world of difference for the success of your quick service restaurant.


Employee Injury


Employees are injured in restaurants each and every day. Slips, trips, falls, burns, and more are part of the restaurant business. Make every effort to avoid and prevent injuries, but deal with them quickly and efficiently when they occur.


Violating Food Safety Laws


It’s important to follow laws about food safety for the safety of your customers and the continued existence of your business. Learn what they are and follow them closely. First offenses generally result in expensive fines. However, repeat offenders to local health code policies may find themselves out of the quick service restaurant business.


Fire Safety


One common problem leading to fire risks is cooking foods at temperatures that are too high. Restaurant employees want to rush orders to get people in and out faster. However, this leads to a huge fire risk. Adopt company policies that strongly discourage this act and you will significantly reduce your fire risks.


The rewards of a quick service restaurant that’s well run, are abundant. Pay attention to the little details in the day-to-day operation of your fast food restaurant and you’re sure to have a successful restaurant ventures on your hand, at least one that has fewer risks than the competition. However, adding the right kind of insurance coverage, such as: equipment breakdown insurance, food spoilage coverage, workers’ compensation insurance, and general liability insurance can help mitigate the damage to your business when bad things do happen.

What to Expect From Your Restaurant Health Food Inspection

Health inspections for restaurants are an important aspect of having a healthy eating environment and showing customers that you care about their safety. A clean restaurant isn’t just about getting an A grade, but protecting against the risks of unclean kitchens that lead to food poisoning and other illnesses. In general, health inspections will occur 1-4 times a year, though the exact time span and guidelines for inspections will vary by state. Get to know the guidelines in your state and keep the following tips in mind.


Restaurant Operating Risks


When operating a restaurant, you are liable for risks relating to your customer’s health and safety. When you slack on guidelines and cleanliness in the kitchen and bathrooms of your restaurant, you put yourself and them at risk. This includes food poisoning from spoiled food or contamination of foods, improper labeling of food items, not throwing out food when it is past its due date, and failing to follow proper hand washing guidelines. This is why having health inspections is so important.


Preparing for an Inspection


Here are some valuable tips to help you prepare for the inspection and make sure your employees know how to handle an inspection.


Educate Employees.  You should be informing your employees of proper safety precautions in the restaurant, including washing their hands, labeling food, being careful to avoid cross-contamination and never using food past its expiration date. Choose random days to test their knowledge and monitor their food handling.


Try a Sample Inspection. During the inspection, tools will be used including chemical test strips, flashlight and alcohol wipes. Use the same tools to inspect every inch of your restaurant, inside and out. This gives you an idea of what the health inspector might find. Take notes of anything you find that the inspector might give you a low grade for and get it remedied as soon as possible.


Don’t Forget About Outside. Many restaurant owners will keep a clean kitchen, bathrooms and dining area, but forget about outside. The inspector starts outside and will pay attention to the cleanliness and landscaping, including whether or not it is safe for customers.


Become Familiar with Details. You should know what the health inspector is looking for, including exact details about proper refrigerator and freezer temperatures, handwashing practices, food handling guidelines, training employees, requiring food handling licenses and anything else that is relevant.


Types of Health Inspections


You should also be aware that depending on your county and state, there are three possible types of inspections. They include a routine inspection, complaint inspection and follow-up inspection. The routine inspection is done on a regular basis, often 2-4 times a year. Complaint inspections come after a customer has noticed unclean areas or gotten ill after eating at your restaurant. A follow-up inspection comes after you have been given instructions on how to improve your restaurant’s cleanliness and the inspector comes back to be sure you made those corrections.


What to Expect from the Inspection


As you might have guessed by now, the food health inspector will go over every square inch of your restaurant. They are looking for the following:


  • Safe environment for customers and employees
  •  Properly labeled food
  • Proper temperatures of refrigeration units
  •  Proper food handling
  • Hand washing by all employees
  • Cleanliness inside and out
  • Separate surfaces for raw meat than preparing foods
  • No pests or rodents in the restaurant


Aside from preparing for the health inspection, you should also have restaurant insurance policies to protect your restaurant from liabilities. If a customer was to get food poisoning or an illness after eating at your restaurant, insurance like general liability, spoilage coverage, and food contamination insurance would protect your business.