Restaurant kitchens have many places where fires can occur. Business owners should be aware of potential fire hazards and take preventative fire safety measures. Following a few simple safety tips can prevent fires and keep employees and customers safe in your facility.
Perform regular inspections
Regular inspections are the first step in restaurant fire safety. Inspections of fire safety equipment must be carried out annually by a professional for approval by the fire marshal. Employees and managers cannot legally perform inspections themselves. The sprinkler system, fire extinguishers, alarms and exit lights should all be inspected and repaired, as necessary, during this period.
During the inspection, certain items must be changed at certain ages in accordance with National Fire Protection Association codes. Some examples are hood links that need to be changed every year, sprinkler gauges need to be changed every five years, and fire extinguishers need to be recharged every six years.
Most of the time, repairs are fairly straightforward and don’t cost much if maintained regularly. Repairs can be expensive if left untreated for many years.
Keep oven hoods clean
The biggest fire hazard in any restaurant is the ventilation hood. Most restaurant fires are caused by improper cleaning of the ventilation hood. The hood allows smoke and steam to escape and exit the building. Grease and grime, accumulated over time, can become a powder keg when a flame is sucked into the ventilation system.
When the hood is dirty, the hood system attached to it will not activate, so chemicals will not come out of the lines. If the lines do not fire, you have nothing to fight the fire and it can spread very quickly due to the build-up of grease.
Professional hood cleaning on a regular basis can help prevent fires. The ventilation hood should be inspected by a professional semi-annually or semi-annually.
It is also necessary to keep your hood free from debris, such as boxes and shelves. In addition to the automatic extinguishing system, the hood has a manual pulling station which activates the lines if it does not activate by itself. Ensuring the area is free of debris allows employees to use the draft station to quickly extinguish the fire.
Correct placement of fire extinguishers
Having appropriate fire extinguishers in your facility is necessary for fighting fires. Class K fire extinguishers are required for all restaurant kitchens. These extinguishers spray a chemical that effectively quells grease fires. The front of the house must be equipped with an ABC class fire extinguisher. These extinguishers are your basic extinguisher used to put out small fires.
Fire extinguishers should also be free of debris for easy access. Do not allow employees to hang aprons or block them with boxes or carts. Timing is of the essence when a fire breaks out. Quick access to fire extinguishers and first aid stations allows the fire to be extinguished before it spreads.
Fire alarms are often considered the most critical part of a restaurant’s security system. When an alarm sounds, occupants immediately know that a potential hazard exists and that an evacuation is required.
General managers should perform regular testing of the fire alarm system. Most systems can be tested through the control panel. Set the control panel to test mode, which means it will not call the fire department and press the button again to trigger the alarms. For other systems, alarms may require manual activation by opening an alarm lever box with a master key and pressing the button inside. Record your test results by keeping a list of each activating device and how it responded to the test. If one or more alarms are faulty, this information will help a technician quickly locate the problem.
Work output lights
Finally, emergency exit signs should be posted in the appropriate areas and the lights inside should work. Exit signs light up allowing customers and employees to quickly find emergency exits when a fire breaks out. Poor lighting can lead to tragedy in a smoke-filled situation if people are not able to find exits quickly.
Fire safety is important for all kitchens. Following these few simple steps can help keep your restaurant, your employees, and your customers safe. Professional inspections and regular cleaning will go a long way in protecting your establishment.