The commercial kitchen is one of the most at risk areas for fire. Everything is there ready and waiting to cause a fire: oxygen, fuel, and heat. If you’re running a kitchen, you need to do your best to ensure that the fire risk is kept low. This is especially true after lockdown, as businesses slowly reopen.
Here are some tips to help you keep your kitchen as safe as can be.
This is probably the most important tip on this list. If a kitchen hasn’t been cleaned for a long time, you’ll see that there’s plenty of fuel around to start a fire. This is especially true of grease. When cooking, you’re going to create grease as you do so. If this isn’t properly cleaned regularly, then you’ll have a fuel source just waiting for a fire.
Have a regular and consistent cleaning schedule that ensures you are keeping the kitchen clean. Using a checklist is a good idea, as you can hang it in the kitchen and everyone can see it. Have all the cleaning tasks for the week on there, and ensure they’re all checked off every week.
This is especially important if you’re reopening for the first time in awhile. If dust and dirt have had the chance to pile up, they’re going to pose a real hazard. It’s best practice to clean the whole kitchen down before you start using it again.
Test and Maintain Your Equipment
This is another important task you must be doing regularly. You have a lot of equipment in your kitchen that uses heat and open flames in order to cook. If anything were to go wrong with them, you’ll see that they are prime to start fires in your kitchen.
To avoid this, it’s best to regularly test and maintain your equipment. Regulations in your area will dictate what standards your equipment should adhere to. If you’re getting ready to reopen, now is the time to test everything. Ensure that everything is ready for reopening, and will work safely.
It’s also a good idea to regularly inspect your equipment. Look for any issues that could lead to fires, such as frayed cords. If you find anything, have the issue repaired as soon as possible. If you stay on top of this, you’ll be ready to face any problems head on and avoid fires.
Train Your Staff
Most kitchen fires are going to happen thanks to human error. You can’t reduce this risk down to 0, as accidents happen. However, you can greatly reduce it with proper training.
If you haven’t enrolled your staff on the proper safety courses, now is the time to do so. Have them trained in proper fire safety, and keep it up. Usually, your staff should retrain after a certain amount of time. Keep track of their training, and make sure you’re having them trained on schedule to reduce the risk of fire.
Check Your Sprinkler System
When you’re checking your equipment, this is something you shouldn’t overlook. Your sprinklers are your last defense against a fire. You need to ensure that it’s ready, working, and will be able to extinguish a fire if one were to break out. When these are working, they’re going to be what stops the fire from burning down the entire building.
Include Proper Fire Extinguishing Equipment
All commercial kitchens should have the right fire extinguishers and other equipment. This includes items like fire blankets, which are designed for smothering grease or oil fires. In a kitchen, it’s essential that you have these.
Once you have them in your kitchen, include them in your inspections. All fire extinguishing equipment has an end date on it, so check that yours hasn’t expired. If it has, have it replaced as soon as possible.
You will also need to ensure that your staff are trained in how to use the equipment. This should be included in their fire safety training, and updated as required.
Organize Flammable Items
In any commercial kitchen, you’re going to have plenty of flammable items. These include paper towels, dish cloths, aprons, paper, and so on. These easily can get into an open flame and start a fire.
To stop this from happening, organize your kitchen. Keep all flammable items as far away from grills and stove tops as you can. Ensure that staff aren’t wearing clothes that dangle or trail, as these will cause fires if not properly attended to, and put them at risk.
Clean Out the Ventilation System
Your ventilation system is vital in the kitchen. It helps keep fumes out of the kitchen, but it also invites the risk of fire. Grease, smoke and other particles get trapped in the ventilation, multiplying the fire risk in your kitchen.
You can avoid this by cleaning out the ventilation regularly. This will remove the grease and thus, fuel for any potential fire. The NFPA fire code requires you to check these ducts regularly, so ensure that you do so.
Be Wary of Cigarettes
There are plenty of people in the restaurant industry who smoke, which invites further fire risk into your business. If you have any staff who smoke, never allow them to do so indoors. When they extinguish their cigarettes, it needs to be in a proper container. A bucket of sand, or similar, is usually best. This is because a cigarette that looks like it’s out can still be hot, and spark a fire.
A cigarette in your kitchen will be highly dangerous. Ensure that all cigarettes are kept as far away from the area as you can, to ensure safety.
Prevent a Commercial Kitchen Fire
With these tips, you’ll be able to reduce the risk a commercial kitchen fire. While you cannot totally eliminate the risk, if you’re taking good care of your staff and your equipment, you’ll be reducing it considerably. Use local fire codes to see how you can keep that risk down day to day.