Did you know that the US Fire Administration reported in the years between 2011 and 2013, about 5,600 restaurant kitchen fires were reported in the United States each year – about 15 per day or over 100 fires each week – that’s almost 17,000 fires just in three years. These fires resulted in 100 injuries and $116 million in property damage. Overall the majority of these were started in the kitchen – right where you might think they would be.
It could happen in an instant
There are fire hazards hiding in around every corner of your restaurants kitchen. Understanding and learning how to spot some of these hazards can be the difference between a uneventful evening and a panicked 911 call to your local fire department. Learn how to spot and look out for these hazards in your restaurant kitchen and take the steps needed to reduce or eliminate them.
#1 Cooking Grease Hazards
Grease fires happen to even to the best restaurant. Two things have changed when dealing with grease fires in the commercial kitchen. First, the change over from cooking with animal fats to vegetable oils has made restaurant grease fire harder to extinguish. Vegetable oils burn at a higher temperature than animal fats, ensuring that your fire suppression system is in good working order and has been properly maintained is essential in order to deal with these hotter fires. Second, the introduction of high efficiency cooking appliances. These newer appliances heat up quicker, hold their heat longer and don’t cool off as quickly. This makes it harder to cool the burning grease and keep the fire out.
An old non-UL300 dry chemical fire suppression system could have probably dealt with a fire produced by the low-temperature animal fats in a non high efficiency cooking appliance, but you will need a UL 300 wet chemical system to deal with a high-temperature vegetable oil fire in a high efficiency appliance.
#2 Exhaust Hoods and Ducts
Grease residue will build up quickly on filters, exhaust hoods, ducts, fans and any other surface in your hood and duct. If this grease residue catches fire, your restaurant will be in trouble. Improperly cleaned ducts and hoods account for a large majority of all kitchen grease fires.
A “sure-fire” way to avoid a grease exhaust hood or duct fire is by ensuring the cleaning of your exhaust system on a regular basis to avoid the build-up of the grease all together. Many grease exhaust cleaning companies will use a scraper to remove the heavy build up or grease and then use chemical cleaners and pressure washing to clean the surfaces entirely of grease. Make sure to have a qualified contractor clean and service your exhaust equipment thoroughly and regularly and to check for problems with your exhaust fans.
#3 Electrical and Heating Equipment Fire Hazards
Although the National Restaurant Association reports that 57 percent of kitchen fires involve cooking equipment – they also report that 17 percent of restaurant fire occur due to faulty heating equipment and faulty electrical equipment . These types of fires usually are caused by worn wires, faulty equipment, combustible items being stored near power sources, or old electrical equipment and breaker boxes.
It’s important to have all of the equipment in your restaurant properly maintained on a periodic and regular basis. This will help to prevent electrical fires.
Don’t let a fire get in the way of your restaurant’s success
Don’t let a fire be the thing that gets in the way of your restaurant’s success, or more importantly your employees safety. Learning to prevent restaurant fires before they happen and knowing which hazards you need to watch out for can be the keys to successfully stopping them in their tracks and preventing them all together.
Contact NJ Fire Equipment LLC to discuss all of these hazards and see how we can hep you reduce the likely hood a fire devastating your restaurant and business.