Fire Hazards in Commercial Kitchens
Commercial kitchens—whether within a restaurant, hotel, chain, building, church, etc.—present many fire hazards from the natural environment of open flames, multiple hot appliances, etc. Many open flames, a usual fast pace, multiple flammable items, and more can all lead to a fire emergency. Understanding these hazards and how you can minimize the risk can help prevent property damage, business downtime, and more importantly, injury or loss of life.
The fire protection experts at Kauffman Co. of Houston, Texas have pulled together the top fire hazards within commercial kitchens and how you can decrease their threat.
Grease is one of the most dangerous fire hazards in kitchens because of how quickly it can build up from a day’s use and how flammable it is if a fire were to break out. For you and your staff’s benefit, you should establish a clear cleaning schedule and have it written or displayed. One day of cleaning the grease in your kitchen may be easily forgotten, but those days can add up and lead to a huge fire quite quickly.
While you most likely have grease traps installed to catch extra grease in your cooking process, full grease traps that aren’t cleaned may have pieces of food that can easily catch fire when more hot grease is added.
To meet standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you will also need professional inspection and cleaning of your grease traps and kitchen vent hoods. Depending on how fast grease builds up, it is recommended:
- Quarterly for kitchens that operate 24 hours a day or prepare high volumes of food
- Twice a year for sit-down restaurants with moderate levels of food preparation
Even a small fray in a wire can lead to a fire in your kitchen. Be sure to check for frays, breaks, or damage to any wiring—even those that are out of sight. If you have electrical cords running behind large appliances, either check them regularly or move them to another path that is more visible.
Faulty electrical equipment and appliances are highly likely to spark a fire as well.
Clutter and storage boxes
Most of your food will be delivered in bags, boxes, and wrapping. This serves not only as flammable material within your kitchen—it acts as more kindling for a fire—but also as an obstruction for a clear evacuation pathway. You should always organize and dispose of clutter and storage boxes immediately to decrease the risk of injury or the spreading of a fire.
When feeding numerous people with a fast turnover rate and multiple menu options, any commercial kitchen is bound to have multiple open flames at a given time. Open flames are a risk because many things within the kitchen can catch fire from them. Your chefs and staff should be experienced in controlling their open flames and understanding how a fire suppression system works if they were to get out of hand.
The clothing of your chefs is highly flammable. This also includes dish towels, pot holders, and other cloths used within the kitchen. Make sure you have strict protocol about attire while in the cooking areas. With many open flames, a loose sleeve or sagging towel can ignite quickly. Employees should also have their hair held back (not just for sanitation reasons).
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Too many chefs working in the tight, enclosed area of your kitchen increases your risk of a fire. Not only are most bodies bustling around, but with all the hustle, a stray piece of clothing or sleeve may catch from an open flame. In addition, with extra people, the evacuation route in case of an emergency may become extremely bogged down—leading to further injury.
While no restaurant manager wants to be short staffed on a busy Friday night, be sure that your staff is only in the cooking area if they are assigned or needed.
Commercial Kitchen Fire Protection
Your commercial kitchen should be equipped with proper fire protecting system—including extinguishers, suppression systems for your kitchen, sprinkler systems for your main dining area, exit and emergency lighting, and kitchen hood inspections.
If you are looking for commercial kitchen fire protection services to minimize these hazards and risk of fire in your restaurant or building in the Houston area, contact Kauffman Co. today!