Restaurants – with their open flames, hot equipment, electrical connections, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals and paper products – have all the ingredients for a fire to flame out of control.
According the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly 8,000 restaurant establishments report a fire each year, causing an annual average of $246 million in direct property damage.
A fire can devastate your business, leading to lost revenues and even permanent closure. But there are steps you can take to prevent fires and minimize the damage.
- Clean your kitchen exhaust system regularly. The NFPA calls for quarterly inspections of systems in high-volume operations and semiannual inspections in moderate-volume operations. Monthly inspections are required for exhaust systems serving solid-fuel cooking equipment, like wood or charcoal-burning ovens.
- Properly install equipment to reduce grease build up. Baffle filters are specifically designed to collect grease, and if not installed properly, the amount of grease they are able to collect may be reduced – causing more accumulation on the hood. Additionally, the roof top grease containment system surrounding kitchen exhaust fan units can become soiled with grease, which can eat through the petroleum base of rubber roof membranes.
- Train the kitchen staff. In addition to knowing where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them correctly, teach kitchen staff to clean up excess grease since buildup can restrict air flow. Be sure to also clean walls and work surfaces, as well as ranges, fryers, broilers, grills and convection ovens, and vents and baffle filters.
- Have an emergency plan. If a fire breaks out, staff must take control of the situation and lead customers to safety.
Practicing fire prevention is not time-consuming or expensive, but has the potential to save your restaurant. Despite the increased risks of fires in restaurant kitchens, knowing some of the greatest hazards within a kitchen setting can help prevent a fire from occurring or spreading.