AbleToTrain by Willing & Able

The fundamentals of restaurant fire safety

Install preventative maintenance and properly prepare your personnel to reduce the likelihood of a fire.

Restaurants have all of the components for a fire to spread out of control, including exposed flames, hot equipment, electrical connections, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, and paper goods. According to data compiled by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Quincy, Mass., about 8,000 eating and drinking establishments record a fire each year. The direct property damage caused by these fires averaged $246 million each year.

A fire can completely destroy your firm, resulting in lost revenue and possibly permanent closure. However, there are things you can take to help avoid fires and limit the damage they cause.

Maintenance as a preventative measure

In the kitchen, install an automatic fire-suppression system. This is critical because cooking equipment is involved in 57% of restaurant fires. These systems contain a manual switch as well as an automatic chemical dispenser to put out the flames. When the device is turned on, the fuel or electric supply to neighboring cooking equipment is automatically stopped off. Have your fire-fighting system tested twice a year by an expert. For inspection and maintenance, the manufacturer might send you to an authorized distributor.

As a backup, keep portable fire extinguishers on hand. For kitchen fires containing grease, fats, and oils that burn at high temperatures, you’ll require Class K extinguishers. Class K fire extinguishers should only be used after a built-in hood suppression system has been activated. All other fires should be extinguished with Class ABC extinguishers (paper, wood, plastic, electrical, etc.).

Maintain electrical equipment on a regular basis, and keep an eye out for hazards such as frayed cords or wire, cracked or damaged switch plates, and combustible materials near power sources.

Check for grease accumulation in your exhaust system. In high-volume activities, quarterly inspections are required, whereas semiannual inspections are required in moderate-volume operations, according to the NFPA Fire Code. Exhaust systems feeding solid-fuel cooking equipment, such as wood- or charcoal-burning ovens, must be inspected on a monthly basis.

Staff education

Teach your employees how to:

Find a fire extinguisher and use it properly. PAST (take out the pin, aim at the base, make a sweeping motion, (be) ten feet distant) is an acronym you might find useful.

Get rid of the grease. Grease accumulation can hinder air movement, therefore cleaning exhaust hoods is very necessary. Clean the walls and work surfaces, as well as the ranges, fryers, broilers, grills, and convection ovens, as well as the vents and filters.

Never use water to put out a grease fire. When water is thrown into grease, it will splatter, spread, and most likely erupt into a larger fire.

At least once a day, empty the ashes from wood- and charcoal-burning ovens. Store in metal containers outside, at least 10 feet away from any buildings or flammable materials.

Before tossing cigarettes in the trash, make sure they’re out.

Properly store combustible liquids. Keep them in their original containers or in containers that are puncture-resistant and properly sealed. Keep containers away from supplies, food, food preparation areas, and any source of flames in well-ventilated locations.

Make sure everything is in order to avoid a fire hazard. Heat and cooking sources should be kept away from paper items, linens, boxes, and food. At least once a day, properly dispose of soiled rags, trash, cardboard boxes, and wooden pallets.

Use chemical solutions correctly, such as in well-ventilated areas and only mixing chemicals when the directions say so. Clean up any chemical leaks right away.

Prepare yourself: Have a contingency plan in place

If a fire breaks out in your restaurant, your employees must quickly take command and guide guests to safety.

Be ready to turn out the lights. At least one worker every shift should be trained on how to turn off gas and electricity in an emergency.

Make a plan for evacuating. One employee every shift should be designated as the evacuation manager. That person should be in charge of dialing 911, determining whether or not an evacuation is required, and ensuring that everyone safely exits the restaurant. Ensure that your employees are aware of the closest exits based on their placement in the restaurant. Keep in mind that the front door can be used as an emergency exit.

Provide training in the event of an emergency. Teach new staff about fire-safety protocols and how to use fire-fighting equipment. At least once a year, give veteran employees a refresher session.