How to reduce the risk of fire in your commercial kitchen

Many commercial kitchens have learned the hard way about just how destructive a kitchen fire can be.

Depending on the location of ignition, a kitchen fire can be fast spreading and hard to control, causing enormous damage to your kitchen and cash flow.

The good news is these fires can be prevented, as long as you’re aware of all the fire hazards and types of fires that can ignite in the kitchen.

Minimising your fire hazards requires thorough maintenance, cleaning and training, particularly in the following areas.

Kitchen exhaust system

Your exhaust system, canopies and ductwork are the number one source of fires in a commercial kitchen. It’s also potentially the most dangerous, because once it’s set alight through the ventilation system, it’s often hard to control and can even re-ignite.

As the exhaust system draws in oil and grease, build-up can occur on the fan, ducts, filters and internal hoods. This build-up, combined with increased exposure to oxygen, is a deadly combination and has the potential to bring down your entire kitchen.

What to do:

Schedule frequent inspections of your exhaust canopies and ductwork to ensure they are safe, secure, properly installed and functioning. Your exhaust systems should also be positioned correctly and kept at a reasonable distance from heat sources and flammable materials.
When inspecting, take particular note of the grease filters for any damage or air leaks, and be weary of internal surfaces that aren’t always visible. Regular professional cleanings are also recommended to ensure grease build-up is kept to a minimum.

Main kitchen equipment

Anything that produces flames, sparks and hot gases is a fire hazard – and in the kitchen, that’s nearly every piece of main equipment. Your grills, fryers, ovens and cooking ranges are at major risk of setting alight, especially if they have open flames or charcoal burners.

What to do:

First and foremost – make certain your equipment is always used under supervision. Remember it only takes a second for something to spark or catch fire.

Similar to your exhaust system, this equipment is prone to grease and oil build-up. So, you should clean your equipment and surrounding surfaces of grime and food build-up. Regularly inspect this equipment for any repairs needed and ensure the necessary fault-detecting features are present (such as a thermostat).

Overheated oils can also experience spontaneous combustion, which is particularly an issue for your fryers. Make sure oils are kept at an optimum temperature and replaced when necessary.

Keep any flammable material away from this equipment, such as paper, plastic, cardboard or clothing. Finally, ensure your staff are trained on the proper use of all equipment; it can be as simple as a worker putting aluminium in a microwave for a disaster to occur.

Electrical appliances

Misused or worn-down kitchen appliances are a big electrical fire hazard and can produce a fuse shortage if not taken care of.

What to do:

All electrical appliances should be switched off and unplugged when possible to avoid any fuse shortages or overheating. If you run a 24-hour kitchen, your appliances should be regularly inspected for any faults, frayed cords and wires, or repairs needed. Also consider replacing and upgrading these appliances more regularly to ensure proper functioning. Avoid overloading your outlets and store your appliances in areas with no water exposure.

Lack of employee training and preventative measures

No matter how much cleaning and inspecting you conduct in your kitchen, we’re only human and accidents can happen. However, the level of training and preparation you have in place can make the difference between a small mishap and many thousands of dollars of damage.

What to do:

Ensure all employees are given proper training on how to handle any fires that occur. Be specific on how to tackle different types of fires, such as grease and electrical fires. Make sure equipment is available, such as any protective equipment, fire extinguishers and fire blankets.

Safeguard your kitchen with a sprinkler system, smoke alarm and other smoke control features and ensure protective equipment, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are easily accessible and available.

Minimize the fire hazards in your kitchen with i do maintenance

The team at i do maintenance are experts in commercial kitchen cleaning services and reducing the risk of fire hazards in your kitchen. Contact us now to discuss your needs.