CINCINNATI—According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), almost 6,000 commercial kitchen fires are reported each year, resulting in an average of 75 injuries and $172 million in property damages. As commercial kitchen technologies and cooking techniques continue to advance, it’s important for workers to be mindful of fire safety rules and regulations. In honor of Fire Prevention Week, observed Oct. 6-12, Cintas Corporation identified seven tips for kitchen fire prevention and safety.
“Commercial kitchen fires often start because employees have not been properly educated about fire safety and are not prepared to respond to an emergency,” said John Amann, vice president, Cintas Fire Protection. “By teaming up with an expert provider and implementing strategies for preventing and reducing the impact of fires, organizations can maintain workplace safety and minimize risk of fire damage.”
Tips for preventing and responding to commercial kitchen fires include:
Ensure proper coverage: Since every kitchen is different, it is critical that a certified fire protection provider assess your kitchen and ensure that each piece of equipment is covered by your fire suppression system. When new equipment is installed or equipment is moved, it is necessary to reevaluate your kitchen suppression system and ensure all hazards are covered. Automatic sprinkler systems and alarm systems are also critical in minimizing fire damage, and should be professionally inspected as required by code.
Keep your kitchen exhaust clean: Keep your kitchen exhaust vents clean with regular cleaning of kitchen exhaust systems. Grease and oil are detrimental to the performance of a kitchen system. Grease buildup can cause a kitchen roof to crack, swell, blister or deteriorate. The most serious consequence of rooftop grease is a catastrophic fire. However, it can lead to a variety of other problems, such as: roof leaks, expensive repairs, voided roof warranties, and unsafe work areas that violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Code.
Use appliances properly: Unplug electrical cords when an appliance is not in use and at the end of the workday. Cords and combustible or flammable items such as potholders, boxes and plastic utensils should be kept away from hot surfaces and water sources. Use only microwave-safe utensils and cookware in the microwave and utilize the kitchen hood to properly vent the kitchen.
Keep the right portable fire extinguisher nearby: An ordinary, multipurpose fire extinguisher is not appropriate for a kitchen setting. Be sure that your kitchen has a silver K-class fire extinguisher that is more suitable for the fire hazards present in commercial kitchens. Monthly inspections and annual maintenance from a licensed fire service provider are a must to ensure extinguishers are compliant with code and will operate as intended in an emergency.
Conduct hands-on training: It’s not enough to have the right fire extinguisher or delay training until after a fire occurs. At least three employees should be trained to take on the role of first responders so that they can properly use extinguishers in the event of a fire. Safety training providers offer hands-on training with fire simulations and educate staff on fire extinguisher location, fire hazards, proper procedures and fire evacuation routes.
Keep appearances neat: Uniforms should fit appropriately and be worn correctly. This not only helps staff look professional, but prevents loose-fitting clothes or open jackets from coming into contact with an open flame or hot surface and catching fire. Additionally, workers should refrain from using flammable hair products and long hair should be pulled back and out of the way.
Leave your employees an out: Fires can happen even after all of the necessary preventative measures have been taken. Should your employees need to evacuate, emergency lights and exit signs will be critical in assisting them to the nearest safe exit. Emergency lights and exit signs require monthly checks and extensive annual inspections, so partner with a fire protection provider to ensure your lights are operational.
For more information on Cintas’ fire protection services for businesses, visit http://www.cintas.com/Fire
Photo credit: Chef in restaurant via BigStock