It can happen in an instant, and all it takes is a spark. Between 2011 and 2013, about 5,600 restaurant fires were reported in the United States. These fires resulted in 100 injuries and $116 million in property damage. The vast majority of these were started – you guessed it – in the kitchen.
There are fire hazards lurking in every corner of your restaurant’s kitchen, and learning how to spot them can be the difference between a successful dinner service and a call to your local fire department. Look out for these common hazards in your kitchen and make sure you take the proper steps to neutralize them.
Electric Fire Hazards
Believe it or not, the wiring on your kitchen stove may be more likely to cause a fire than the burners. In fact, 57 percent of kitchen fires involve cooking equipment. Usually these are caused by worn wires, faulty appliances, combustible items near power sources, or old breaker boxes.
It’s important to have your equipment maintenanced on a regular basis to prevent electrical fires. In case an electric fire does occur, make sure you have a non-water based fire extinguisher 20 feet from your appliances that you can access before the fire spreads.
Exhaust Hoods and Ducts
Grease residue can build up quickly on exhaust hoods, ducts, and any other grease removal devices. If this residue catches fire, your kitchen could be in big trouble. In fact, improperly cleaned ducts and hoods account for 21 percent of all kitchen fires.
The best way to avoid exhaust hood and duct fires is by cleaning them regularly to avoid build-up in the first place. Use a razor or scraper to thoroughly remove build up. It is also recommended that you have a qualified contractor service your equipment at regular intervals to check for problems and clean exhaust fans.
Grease fires can happen even to the most experienced chefs. Recently restaurant kitchens have been switching from cooking with animal fats to vegetable oils. Vegetable oils burn at a much higher temperature than animal fats, so you may need to update your fire suppression system in order to deal with these hotter fires. A traditional dry chemical fire suppression system can take care of a low-temperature animal fat fire, but you will need a wet chemical system to deal with a high-temperature vegetable oil fire.
In addition to your automated fire suppression system, you should have a Class K fire extinguisher 20 feet from your stove. If you don’t have the right fire extinguisher, a small grease fire can turn into a big problem.
Chop, Bake, and Boil
Don’t let a fire get in the way of your restaurant’s success, or your employees safety. Prevent fires before they happen by knowing which hazards you need to watch out for and stopping them in their tracks. With a little bit of foresight (and the proper fire extinguishers), you will be able to chop, bake and boil instead of stop, drop and roll.