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Preventing Kitchen Fires and Restaurant Safety Precautions

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According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), a structural fire takes place roughly every 86 seconds in the United States, and kitchen fires account for a disproportionate amount of them. Because of the hectic, fast-paced nature of commercial kitchens, fires tend to happen much more regularly than in other environments. To help lower the frequency of these fires, the NFPA runs a yearly campaign centered around an initiative called Fire Prevention Week, which has been taking place every October since 1922. 

In the spirit of the NFPA’s upcoming campaign, covered below are some important tips for fire prevention and safety in your commercial kitchen food preparation environment.

Practice Preventative Maintenance

Commercial kitchens typically have quite a bit of heavy-duty equipment and appliances, which if not properly maintained can become a fire hazard. Listed here are a few specific measures that should be taken in any commercial kitchen to ensure that none of your equipment is at risk for starting a fire.

Maintain Your Electrical Equipment

Electrical fires are a major hazard in any commercial kitchen, since things like wires, plugs, and sockets tend to be commonplace among the equipment. When any of these little electrical components in the kitchen become frayed, they can start to project heat. If this heat is projected onto flammable material, that’s exactly how electrical fires begin. To be certain that your commercial kitchen is safe from fires starting this way, have a professional come out regularly to check that all of your electrical components are up-to-date and properly maintained.

Clean Your Exhaust Hood System

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The exhaust system is a crucial component of any working commercial kitchen, but if not cleaned regularly, they can also present a serious fire risk. The exhaust hood system works by sucking the grease-covered cooking vapors up into the ducts, and then pushing them through the exhaust fan and safely out of the kitchen. If the exhaust hood isn’t cleaned on a regular basis, grease can gradually build up within. With all of that grease accumulated, all it takes is a bit of fire flaring up from the cooktop surface, and suddenly you can have a large grease fire spreading through your kitchen. Fortunately, this is easily preventable by making it a routine chore to clean out the grease from your exhaust hood system. 

Get Rid of That Grease

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In a working kitchen, it’s inevitable that grease is going to build up in quite a few places. There’s not much you can do to prevent this from happening, but you can certainly make a point to not let too much of it build up. By simply cleaning the grease-covered surfaces more regularly, you can significantly lower the odds of a grease fire being created and spreading. Usually, the main surfaces prone to grease build-up are stovetops, counters, walls, fryers, grills, etc. Make it a part of the kitchen staff’s daily task list to clean the grease from these surfaces.

How to Handle a Fire

Even if you have been careful to take every preventative measure, it’s still possible that a freak accident will occur, and you will have a fire in your commercial kitchen. If you have the proper safety measures, protocols, and training within your kitchen, though, you should be able to avoid a catastrophe. Listed below are a few measures for taking care of a kitchen fire.

Automatic Extinguishing System

Because of the frequency in which kitchen fires occur, every commercial kitchen should have an automatic extinguishing system installed. These systems detect the heat and/or flames of a fire as it begins to grow, and then disperse special chemicals to suppress it before it gets out of hand.

Fire Extinguishers

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Just about everybody is familiar with fire extinguishers, and even for a commercial kitchen that has one of the aforementioned systems installed, having multiple fire extinguishers on hand is still an excellent idea. Make sure they are placed somewhere easily accessible, and still within their expiration period.

A Well-Trained Staff

There is perhaps nothing more important in case of a kitchen fire than a staff that knows what they need to do. Make sure that every employee of your commercial kitchen knows what the fire protocol is, where the extinguishers are located, and where all of the exits are for an emergency escape.

With this information you can make sure that your commercial kitchen is as safe from deadly fires as possible, and is fully prepared to handle the situation properly should one occur. Remember, a little bit of work and preparation now can be extremely beneficial in the long run, and safety is always paramount.

About Chef Lilian

Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at chef@foodwellsaid.com

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