Restaurant Fire Protection Tips

By: Tom Hartel
Overall customer satisfaction is the goal for most restaurants, but make customer safety the main priority. A restaurant fire protection plan should be in place long before the doors open for the first time. Keeping a commercial kitchen safe from fire may be a difficult undertaking but is essential to the survival of the business. Kitchens require regular maintenance and inspection to stay well ahead of an actual emergency.

Here are some restaurant fire protection tips you can use to minimize the likelihood of a fire at your location.

Test Fire Protection Regularly

Automatic fire suppression should be installed throughout a restaurant, but take extra care when deciding where to put sprinklers and fire extinguishers in the kitchen. Cooking is one of the leading causes of a structure fire, and commercial kitchens host more equipment and activity daily than the average home kitchen. It is important for any business to regularly have their fire protection equipment inspected. These systems only function when they are properly maintained. This means having your alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers regularly checked and fixing any flaws. Keep small equipment like fire blankets and portable fire extinguishers within reach.

Train Staff

Require training for the entire staff on restaurant fire protection procedures. When there is a turnover in your staff, have a refresher course for staff so new employees are trained as well. Teach everyone where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. They should also know how to spot and deal with hazards. It is best for managers to identify all potential hazards and make the staff aware. Plan escape routes ahead, and teach staff how to shut-down equipment.

Before hiring anyone new, make sure they are knowledgeable of kitchen devices and appliances they will be using. Employees should be properly trained on all grills, fryers, blowtorches, and other equipment. Training should include topics like never throwing water on a grease fire, removing ash from the grill, proper cigarette disposal, in addition to how to use a fire extinguisher.

Inspect Exhaust

How restaurants handle their kitchen exhaust is another important factor. Appliances can be set to automatically activate the exhaust vents, and is a great option for commercial kitchens. This way proper ventilation is not overlooked during day to day procedures. Inspections of exhaust systems are mandatory by fire safety codes. Conduct them monthly to ensure everything is in working order as well as eliminate grease build-up. The grease that gets stuck in the vents can be a major fire hazard for commercial kitchens with so much output. When choosing venting vs recirculating hoods, venting outside the building is a much better option. Recirculating hoods need their filters changed regularly to work properly while venting hoods feed exhaust directly outside. Venting hoods also keep the kitchen cooler and redirect some of the smell as well.

Keep Fire Exit Routes Free

Crowding the floorplan with tables and décor may make for more customers and better atmospheres, but it also eliminates a lot of possibilities for fire routes. Exit routes may not prevent fires but they are essential in the event of one. It is important to keep routes clear for quick escape in the event of a fire. It is best to have two possible routes to direct customers just in case one is obstructed. Exit routes should be a permanent part of the layout and never be temporarily blocked. Restaurants should be aware of this when preparing for events and live music which often requires some rearranging.

Carefully Arrange Kitchen Layout

Consider restaurant fire protection when designing the layout of your kitchen. Carefully designing the layout of your kitchen is important for more than just production times. Certain appliances cannot be placed in the vicinity of other equipment. For example, keep your deep fryers away from open flame cooking equipment. Splashing oil could ignite if it comes into contact with an open flame. Lighters and blow torches should not be lit anywhere near fryers.

Access to fire extinguishers should be clear and quickly accessible. Nothing should block the flow of sprinklers. They need to be able to do their job which means reaching the whole kitchen.

Take Care of Appliances

Just like your restaurant fire protection and ventilation systems, appliances need inspections. Equipment in commercial kitchens receive more wear and tear than average residential models. Testing the equipment can give you peace of mind that nothing will malfunction leading to destruction of property as well as stop working altogether leading to loss of business. Professionals recommend to complete inspections quarterly. If an appliance breaks, hire a professional to fix it. Commercial kitchens are not the place for DIY electrical repairs.

Keeping all appliances clean is also extremely important. Where there is grease there is fuel for the fire. Empty grease traps at least once a day. Flammable items like linens, paper, towels, and boxes should be promptly cleared away. It is easy to lose track of small items in kitchen environments and lead to fires if left in the wrong areas. Kitchens should be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each night to avoid build-up.

If you include regular maintenance and cleaning in your restaurant’s routine and take great care in arranging your floor plan you greatly reduce the risk of a fire.

If you need a fire protection system in your restaurant, contact us at Valley Fire Protection and we can get you started!

By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.

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