Restaurants – the go-to place when you’re damn hungry. We go, we enjoy the food, give tips, and come back. Have you ever thought about what would happen if the restaurant is on fire by any chance? Did you think about Restaurant Fire Safety?
Obviously not, why should we think about it! It’s the owner’s job and the staff’s job to look and take care of it.
According to NFPA’s 2019 survey of Fire departments, the estimated 4,81,500 structure fire caused 2,980 civilian fire deaths. And caused property damage of $ 12.3 billion.
The fire which was studied by the NFPA, more than 59 percent of fire started in the kitchen – a fact which tells us how important it is to understand and implement the best practices for fire safety. In this post, we will talk about the 3 major aspects in which fire safety should have the best practices.
These primary areas are preventive measures, good housekeeping, and training of the employees, which can help to reduce the risk of fires.
What can be the Best Practices for Preventive Measures?
26 percent of all the fire studied in the NFPA reports say that the fire outbreak was a result of electrical or mechanical failure; or the malfunction of kitchen appliances and equipment. Mentioned below are the best practices for the prevention of fire in the kitchen. These 2 major areas are
- The appliance & the exhaust system in the kitchen
- The fire suppression & fire fighting equipment.
Let us first see the appliance & the exhaust system in the kitchen.
Inspection of electrical appliances & maintenance should be done regularly.
It is important to keep a record of all the loose wire or any worn-out wire endings as these are likely to create fire because of short circuit. Everything which is oily and greasy – pans and machines and other appliances should be cleaned properly. All the wires or chords which are hidden behind the machines or other electrical appliances should be checked regularly and be replaced if there is any wire left open.
Any damaged appliances or malfunctioning appliances should be checked by the professionals
No doubt we all are curious to know about what is inside of a machine. But it is always better if the professional checks the machine or any other electrical appliance that is damaged or not working properly. Never ever try to repair any broken or damaged electrical appliance on your own.
The exhaust system in the kitchen should be regularly inspected and checked to prevent building up of grease.
This is not only a best practice but it is also recommended by the fire safety departments. According to the NFPA 96, Standard for ventilation control and fire protection of commercial cooking operation, it requires the cleaning and check-up of the exhaust systems as per monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually schedules. These schedules are based on the type of things you cook and what are your operations for cooking.
Always keep your deep fat fryers away from the open flame food counter or open flame cooking equipment
Deep fryers were involved in 1 out of every 5 fire accidents studied by NFPA. The fryers should be at least 16 inches away from the flames or one can use a vertical divider that extends more than 8 inches to avoid any such accident. Any of these options will help you to keep away the oil splash to give a HI5! To the flames. The second major prevention method that one can take is, they can install a high-temperature limiting device which shuts the power or fuel supply to the fryer automatically – if the temperature exceeds 275 degree Celsius.
Now that we’ve completed the best practices let us talk about maintaining the fire suppression system and equipment in the kitchen.
When talking about the fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens it’s always better to be in-line with restaurant fire safety regulations. It is also important to stay at the top of the regulations that are relevant to your fire alarms and emergency.
Inspecting and testing your fire alarms regularly
A fire alarm is the quickest way to inform anyone and everyone on the premises about a potential fire threat. When it goes off, people have an ample amount of time to get to a safe place. Also, this helps the first responders to locate the root of fire and put it off before the causes of any severe damage. In order to know if the fire alarms will work when you actually need them, NFPA requires you to check the alarms both weekly and monthly with visual inspections and function testing.
Test exit lightings and emergency
There is a chance that the power may be lost during a fire accident hence it is necessary to regularly check the emergency and exit lighting. This would help the people to find their way to a safe place or the exit route. NFPA requires inspection of all emergency and exit lighting systems monthly and annually.
Test your kitchen for a proper fire suppression system.
Usually, the kitchen fire suppression systems are effective at extinguishing kitchen fires. Yet they can fail due to lack of maintenance. This is the only reason which makes it more critical that it should be regularly inspected and tested.
Always have a backup – keep portable fire extinguishers.
NFPA stated that it is necessary to have a portable fire extinguisher as a PLAN B. Fire extinguishers which are capable of handling Class K Fire are required in the commercial kitchens which involve grease, fats, and oils that usually burn at high temperature. It is always better to keep ABC fire extinguishers which will help you to extinguish fires caused by paper, wood, plastic, electrical fire, etc. All the fire extinguishers should be checked every month and if needed recertified annually.
BEST practices for Good Housekeeping!
Housekeeping staff should be appreciated for all they do. They are the ones who maintain the place, the look, and the feel. It is necessary to maintain cleanliness and good housekeeping standards to reduce the risk of fires in the commercial kitchen. NFPA data shows that 22 percent of all the fire that occurs is from the commercial kitchens and these fires are the failure of cleanliness.
Regularly Cleaning of Kitchens
The simplest yet most effective practice which everyone should follow. A single spark can be ignited if the grease or oils keep building up around the fryers. The housekeeping staff should daily clean all the oil stains and the spilled oils or any traces of leftovers with excess oil which can be a cause for fire accidents. Machines which has oil inlet taps should be cleaned daily to prevent overflowing and reducing the risk of fire hazard. To maintain track of all these things one can use the checklist and monitor it daily, weekly, and monthly if they are cleaned or no.
One of the best methods to get these things is to use infographics in every alley where the staff is allowed.
Another important aspect of keeping a restaurant free from any fire accident is that the management should Make Staff Training a Priority.
Your employees can either reduce the risk of fire accidents or can increase it depending upon the firefighting training they have been through. Let’s say if your restaurant is on fire, your staff should be the one to take the control of the situation and lead your customers to a safe exit or a safe place away from the accident.
Make sure that your staff is well prepared and has the required equipment and training when using open flame machines
Many dishes in a commercial restaurant are made from the tempering of alcohol and a few spices which are likely to catch fire. Any mistake in this can lead to huge damage to lives as well as property.
Make sure all the equipment are used as per the manufacturer’s instructions
NFPA states that 2 percent out of all the fires that occurred had been caused due to improper use of equipment
Employees should be trained to quickly extinguisher the grease fires on cooktops and grills
Training staff to quickly extinguish the cooktop’s fire can save a lot of damage. If not taken care of can be harmful to the staff as well as the employer. One must understand that always grabbing a fire extinguisher is not the only option, if the fire can be contained one can cover the small fire with any metal lead cutting off the oxygen supply. Quick thinking and being proactive at this time is the only option to save a lot of damage.
Training your employees
Make sure each and everyone is aware of how to use a fire extinguisher.
Prepare your staff to cut down the power immediately when it is the need of an hour.
Provide all the mandatory training. Teach new employees all the fire safety standards and measures that should be taken into consideration.
Last but not least,
Have a proper Fire Safety Plan
Every single thing mentioned above is great but still one should have an evacuation plan. Make a proper plan and practice the evacuation quarterly or twice a year. Every shift that works should have one evacuation manager or take the charge if any such thing takes place.
Maintenance and Proper care of your machines can help you save yourselves.