As a restaurant manager or owner, you are aware of the dangers fire presents to your business. Restaurants are prone to fires due to several reasons including grease build up, gas leaks, electrical fires, and cooking mistakes. According to the latest data provided by FEMA, an estimated 5,600 restaurant fires are reported to local fire departments each year resulting in injuries, death and over 100 million dollars in property damage. So, understanding your risks and how to prevent fires is critical in running your restaurant.
Keeping Your Restaurant Safe
From training your staff, to maintaining the establishment, many safety measures exist to prevent a fire from happening at your restaurant. Here are some of the easiest practices you can follow to reduce the potential for fires in your restaurant.
The first thing any restaurant owner or manager must do to prevent fires is to have a prevention system in place. Install automatic fire-suppression systems in the kitchen and have it inspected bi-annually. Fire suppression systems disperse chemicals that help control flames. These systems can also be used manually in case the automatic system is damaged. When the system activates, all electricity and gas is automatically turned off to prevent the spread of fire. Always make sure these systems are working properly.
Keep Class K fire extinguishers available within the restaurant. This class of extinguishers helps knock down fires caused by grease and other flammable materials that burn at high temperatures. Class K extinguishers must only be used after the hood suppression system is activated. Class ABC extinguishers must also be kept on hand for other types of fires including wood, electrical and paper.
Install fire alarms and test them biannually. Fire alarms alert staff and patrons immediately of a fire danger allowing them to get to safety as quickly as possible.
Lastly, make sure your sprinkler system is working and maintained. Have a professional test your system at least twice a year. These systems help knock down flames and prevent fires from spreading.
Keep Up with Maintenance
Regular maintenance is extremely important when it comes to fire safety in restaurants. Hire a professional to come in and test all your fire suppression systems. Inspectors will test each device and recommend if anything needs replaced or repaired. They will also check your extinguishers to make sure they are operable in case of a fire emergency.
Clean Your Cooking Systems
Cooking systems like ovens, fryers and stove hoods become coated with grease and grime over time which is a potential fire hazard. Have your staff clean these areas nightly. Fires can easily spread once they reach the ductwork and exhaust systems in the kitchen, the vents and fans behind ovens that extract smoke, steam, and other vapors. These areas must be cleaned regularly, at least once a week, to prevent any grease buildup which can lead to a fire.
Clean all surfaces of the kitchen to remove grease. Exhaust hoods, countertops, behind and on the sides of kitchen appliances, walls and any vents located in the kitchen must be kept clean. Grease is highly flammable and doesn’t take much of a spark to set ablaze. Train your staff in proper cleaning techniques to ensure the area remains safe for all working in that part of the restaurant.
Train Your Staff
Having a well-trained staff is crucial when it comes to fire emergencies. Conduct hands-on training with your staff about what to do in case of an emergency at least twice a year. Inform them on the locations of fire suppression equipment like extinguishers, methods on safely evacuating guests, and how to contact the local fire department.
If your restaurant uses wood stoves or ovens make sure the charcoal is removed daily. The ashes from these ovens must be kept outside in metal bins placed at least 10 feet away from the building and any flammable materials.
Train your staff properly on the cleaning of the establishment. Show them where to store paper products, fabrics, cardboard, and food. You must keep these materials away from heat sources and any cooking equipment to prevent potential fires. Also, ensure any dirty rags or flammable materials like cooking oil or cleaners are placed in a secure location away from heat sources.
With over 5,000 restaurant fires reported yearly to fire departments it is crucial that you maintain your fire suppression system. Knowing your system is up to date and working properly will provide peace of mind in case of an emergency. Remember your staff and customers are your number one priority. As with any safety equipment always speak to or hire a professional for proper maintenance and regular testing.