No one thinks that their restaurant is going to the one to catch fire but many do. Every year in the United States, there more than 8,000 commercial kitchens. More than $246 million in direct property damage is done to dining establishments and restaurants every year. Cooking equipment is involved in at least 57% of these fires. From having the right fire prevention systems in place to passing all your fire extinguisher inspections, there are things you can do to protect your business.
- Put in an adequate fire suppression system in your kitchen. Because so many of the restaurant fires start with the cooking equipment, the importance of having an automatic fire suppression system installed. When these systems sense a fire, they can distribute fire suppression chemicals that will put it out. They can also turn off the power or gas supply to all of the cooking equipment in the kitchen. These systems also have manual switches. These systems do need regular maintenance. Just like you need to have fire extinguisher inspections done, you need these to be checked and maintained as well. Talk to the company who installed your system for more information about how and when to get this done.
- Have back up fire extinguishers in the kitchen. As good as your automatic fire suppression system may be, there is always the chance that it fails at the worst possible time. There are different kinds of fire extinguishers. Class K are designed to be effective at putting out fires from oils, grease and other fats. These fires burn at very high temperatures. You should have Class ABC extinguishers around as well. These will work on fires caused by other things such as electrical system fires and those involving paper, plastic or wood. You need to have a fire extinguisher services company perform regular maintenance such as fire extinguisher recharge services and fire extinguisher inspections. The importance of fire extinguisher inspections cannot be overrated.
- Keep your electrical equipment properly maintained. You need to schedule routine checks on all of it but you also need to keep an eye on it yourself. If you find any damaged wiring or cords, or anything else that has been broken or otherwise damaged, you need to have it repaired right away.
- Maintain your exhaust system regularly. Grease buildup is one of the reasons there are so many fires in restaurants. Luckily, you can prevent these fires by making sure you have your systems checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Grease build up will happen but if you deal with it before it becomes a problem, you will save yourself a lot of headaches. The frequency with which you need to do this depends on how busy and big your restaurant is. It also depends on the kind of exhaust system you have in place. Some need to be checked on a monthly basis. You should check with the manufacturer of the system.
- Have a plan. Many companies and restaurants admit that they know that they think it is important to have a plan of action for fires and other emergencies but few do. You need to have a “go to” person for each shift. They will be the one to decide when 911 needs to be called, when the establishment needs to be evacuated and will make sure everyone gets out safely. You also need to have a meet up spot outside so that you know there was not a staff member in the store room. The customers will take their cues from you and no emergency is made any better when people do not remain calm.
- Provide training to your workers. All of the people who work in your restaurant need to know how to use your fire extinguishers and where they are located. They do no one any good if no one who works for you can find them when they are needed. They are not hard to use but not self explanatory. Make sure your whole staff knows how to use them. If you have staff who have been with you a while, you should give them refresher training. Fire protection is everyone’s job and responsibility.