Some restaurant kitchen appliances use solid fuel such as mesquite, charcoal and hardwood to cook and heat food. It adds another dimension to restaurant offerings - from pizzas to smoked meat - and also for a wider array of flavor and cooking capabilities. Although solid fuels can be highly combustible and increase the potential for safety risks, restaurant owners can safely use most solid fuel appliances with the right amount of understanding and preparation.
While cooking of any type has inherent risks, solid fuel appliances dial up the threat with the addition of highly combustible materials and large amounts of heat, grease and flammable debris, especially when cooking meat. If ductwork isn’t properly installed or maintained, grease accumulation will make for a dangerous environment. Additionally, many restaurants don’t fully extinguish the fires in solid fuel appliances, even through the night after the restaurant is closed. Leaving a fire in the appliance while unattended overnight dramatically increases the risk for businesses.
In addition to the threat of fire, solid fuel appliances create the potential for increased carbon monoxide levels within the restaurant. To reduce this risk, restaurants typically bring in make-up or replacement air into the building’s ventilation system from the outside. If ventilation systems are not properly installed and balanced with the existing ventilation system, employees and customers could face serious health dangers.
To keep your employees, customers and business safe, the biggest areas to address include ventilation and cleaning, proper fire protection systems, safe storage and ignition practices, and adequate staff training.
By understanding the unique risks associated with solid fuel appliances, restaurant owners can better mitigate these hazards. While difficult to completely eliminate health and fire threats, proper preparation will go a long way toward minimizing these risks.