Fires are one of the dangers in your commercial kitchen. Typically caused by flare-ups during food preparation or from oven, burner or electrical and gas connection defects. In addition to physical damage to your restaurant, fires can also cause serious injuries or deaths, and disrupt business operations for months or even years to come. However, kitchen fires can be prevented. Restaurant owners and managers can decide to start a fire loss prevention program to help reduce the risk of fires.
Food Preparation: The kitchen should never be left unattended while cooking. If employees must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, all heat sources should be turned off. Make sure to unplug or turn off any appliance that is sparking and not working properly and inform management of the incident. Be proactive in keeping hot pads, oven mitts, towels, wooden utensils and food packaging away from any heat source. At the end of the day check all burners, ovens and appliances to makes sure they are off.
Kitchen Exhaust Maintenance: One of the most vital components to kitchen fire safety is proper installation and regular maintenance of your kitchen exhaust system. According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 96 your kitchen exhaust system must be professionally installed. Also regular cleaning of your hoods, grease-removal devices, fans, ducts, filters and other equipment should be serviced by a qualified contractor. An inspection will determine the frequency in which the cleaning will occur and a written schedule should be established as a best practice. There should be a label indicating the date the hood was cleaned and the name of the servicing company in a visible location after every cleaning.
Electrical Preventative Maintenance: Another common cause of fires is electrical failures. To prevent electrical fires restaurants should contract with a licensed electrician to perform routine inspections and maintenance on all electrical equipment. Electricians also have an effective tool, Infrared Thermography (IR), which helps with detecting load imbalances and other circuit deficiencies that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. Speak with your electrician about the need for IR to be conducted in your facility. Always keep a look out for visible electrical deficiencies by inspecting your facility on a routine basis. Some of these include; open or damaged electrical panels, use of extension cords as permanent wiring, electrical tape repairs to wiring, missing ground prongs, and others.
Fire Protection Equipment Inspection, Testing and Maintenance: Of course one of the most effective protection measures available is having a properly maintained and monitored automatic sprinkler system. For commercial cooking operations there are also special protection systems that should be considered. NFPA standards states that all fire protection systems should be installed and serviced by licensed, insured, and qualified contractors. Fire protection should be monitored 24/7 by a central station alarms. With the newer NFPA code versions not everyone has adopted them yet and this subject can become very complex, we recommend you consult with your broker regarding your specific fire protection needs.
Emergency Response Planning: Complete emergency response plans are important to ensure that your staff and customers can safely exit the building in the event of a fire, or other emergency. A thorough emergency response plan should provide communication guidance procedures for fire, police and local utilities. The plan should be practiced periodically, even if not required by the local jurisdiction. Many organizations find errors or problems with their plans during an actual emergency, which is too late. The plan should also contain an emergency vendor list with contacts such as; insurance broker claims representative, disaster restoration/remediation contractor, fire protection contractor, electrician, plumber, etc. Following a fire or other major loss, time is of the essence and quick action can lessen further damage and potentially minimize downtime.
With these loss prevention strategies it is not a one size fits all kind of deal. Each restaurant is unique and should have a loss prevention program specialized for the existing conditions. Your insurance broker can help develop this customized program that suits your needs. When working on your loss prevention program and if you are searching for a commercial kitchen exhaust cleaning company that can help you stay in code with NFPA and more importantly keep your restaurant safe from fires, contact us at 877.454.6790.