Before it burns: Commercial kitchen fire safety

Commercial kitchens are often bustling with activity, from servers running back and forth with hot plates to chefs churning out order after order, working over scorching equipment. Deep-fat fryers, griddles, range tops, and broilers put commercial kitchens right in the crosshairs for fire-related accidents and damage.

Cease fire: Prevention is key

Most commercial kitchens are equipped with the necessary tools to stop a fire in its tracks, but there are lots of things a restaurant can do to prevent one altogether.

  • Install a “firefighter.” Automatic fire-suppression systems are designed to protect ventilating equipment (hoods, ducts, and filters) and other commercial kitchen equipment that produce heat. They automatically dispense chemicals to diffuse flames and also shut down the fuel or electrical supply to nearby equipment. Any fire-suppression system should be professionally installed and inspected semiannually.
  • Back it up. Although commercial kitchens contain several fire hazards — open flames, cleaning chemicals, and paper products — grease is the number one culprit. A class K fire extinguisher is designed specifically for fires involving combustible cooking fluids and must be used only after a built-in hood fire-suppression system has been activated. Class ABC fire extinguishers should be kept in a separate area of the kitchen.
  • Maintenance matters. Not only should any electrical equipment be regularly maintained, as soon as you spot a frayed cord or broken switch plate, get it replaced.
  • Keep it clean. Grease is highly flammable, so the risk of fire increases greatly when there’s buildup. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests quarterly inspections of exhaust systems in high-volume operations and semiannual inspections in midsize operations.

When fire happens, be prepared

Even the most careful kitchens aren’t immune to accidents, so it’s important to have an emergency plan in place. Here are some tips to keep your employees, customers, and property safe in case of fire:

  • Have a power-down plan in place. An operation should ideally have at least one worker per shift who has been trained how to shut off electrical and gas power in case of emergency.
  • Get on the safety train. Kitchen employees should not only know the safety protocol of deep fryers and griddles, they also need to understand how to use fire extinguishers, who to call in an emergency, and how to administer basic first aid. Staff members should be given yearly refresher courses.
  • Have an evacuation plan. Like the power-down plan, have one staff member per shift who is the designated evacuation manager. This individual will determine when an evacuation is necessary and how to get everyone out of the building safely.

Another way to prepare for landing in hot water is to make sure you’re properly insured. Grinnell Mutual’s Target Market program has protection especially designed for business owners like you. Contact a Grinnell Mutual agent and check out our customizable coverage.

The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.