The Dangers Behind Kitchen Doors: Fire Prevention in Restaurants

A restaurant’s priority should not only be to offer an exceptional dining experience to its patrons but to ensure that the experience is a safe one for all parties housed under its roof. And we’re not talking about food safety here! 

Life’s major events and celebrations with families, friends, and partners are often celebrated in restaurants. Think about how many acquaintances have become close, inseparable friends or romantic partners after shared meals in a café or restaurant. There’s just something special about dining out with loved ones, gathering at a table, and excitedly waiting for the dishes that you didn’t have to cook. 

The financial impact of this massive economy is impressive, too. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry sales were around 4% of the national gross domestic product in 2019. Employing 15.3 million people with another 1.6 million jobs over the next decade, we know these hot spots aren’t going anywhere. 

Fire Culprits in a Restaurant Kitchen

What goes on behind a restaurant’s kitchen doors is a different world filled with potential safety risks and danger. With the consistent presence of open flames and hot liquids, the kitchen staff is exposed to fire hazards daily. According to Insurance Solutions of America, “Around 40% of restaurant fires start in the kitchen, and nearly 20% of those can be traced to the stove.” Further, more than 8,000 restaurants catch fire every year which costs more than $245 million in property damage annually. 

The most common causes of restaurant kitchen fires:

  • Cooking Oil & Grease Traps. According to the National Fire Protection Association, mishandling of cooking oil and other kitchen materials ignited almost half (43%) of restaurant fires.

  • Range Hoods & Exhaust Systems. If there is grease buildup in your range hood and ductwork, flammable vapors can be extracted and fires can spread rampantly. 

  • Gas Leaks. Old and neglected equipment in restaurant kitchens increases the risk of fires. Gas leaks are very dangerous and can result in explosions that can cause the biggest restaurant fires.

  • Electrical. Restaurant fires are also commonly caused by unsafe wiring, sockets, and switches that are exposed to flammable and combustible materials.

 

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Restaurant Fire Prevention

It’s important to understand that restaurant kitchens are always at risk of fire. It’s just the nature of this business, which is why it’s important to take steps in preventing fires to protect your customers, employees, and vendors.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid a fire in your food establishment. Check out our top four tips below!

  1. Install an Automatic Fire-Suppression System

Fire suppression systems are extremely important for preventing restaurant kitchen fires. Since almost half of kitchen fires are caused by cooking flames, this system will automatically dispense liquid that will suppress a cooking fire and will shut down the fuel supply in the case of a cooking fire.

  1. Regular Maintenance and Inspections

A restaurant kitchen uses a lot of electrical equipment and regular maintenance should be prioritized and scheduled. Preventing fire in the kitchen takes more than just installing the said suppression systems. These systems should also be regularly inspected to make sure that they are properly working and will function when needed. 

Range hoods and exhaust systems should be inspected twice per year to catch grease build-ups early.

  1. Invest in Fire Alarms & Security Systems

Installing fire alarms and security systems in your restaurant allows you to keep an eye on the entire kitchen, even while away. Observe best (and worst) practices for improving operating protocols and procedures. A monitored fire alarm will help catch a small cooking fire, giving you the chance to prevent it from blazing out of control. The extra set of eyes (from the monitoring center) will react quickly when nobody else is able, sending the fire department without delay when needed. 

  1. Train Your Kitchen Staff

Your kitchen staff is the primary people who are exposed to the risk of fire and it’s imperative that they know not only how to prevent an outbreak but also how to respond in the event a fire occurs. Staff training could involve ensuring everyone knows how to use a fire extinguisher, properly use and store flammable liquids and enact your emergency plan. 

A restaurant is a business that takes years to plan and a huge amount of money to establish. Yes, you run a business for profit but it goes beyond that. Most restaurant owners have big hearts and a deep desire to serve their patrons. It’s about providing a place where people can bond and enjoy one of life's greatest pleasures. And safety has to come first!

Midwest Alarm Services is versed in regular maintenance of your fire alarm, vent hood, and fire extinguishers. If you don’t already have a fire detector or security system, we can handle that for you, too. Contact us to learn more and let us help you keep your restaurant, staff, and patrons safe.