How to Prevent and Put Out a Grease Fire in a Commercial Kitchen
Grease fires in commercial kitchens can cause significant damage and are a nightmare. In just one four-year period, fires caused $165 million in direct property damage in restaurants, according to a 2017 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report.
With proper maintenance and preparation, kitchen managers can minimize human and structural risk by training employees, cleaning cooking equipment regularly, adhering to proper codes, and running frequent preparation drills. These are all key steps to prevent a grease fire and, if it does occur, to extinguish it quickly.
Employees are your front line to prevent grease fires and they should undergo frequent training to be able to act quickly and calmly if an emergency arises. They should know and follow proper cleaning protocols, know what to do if a fire does break out, and the location of exits and evacuation plans. Regular training sessions are critical to mitigate disaster.
It’s critical to maintain and clean cooking equipment every day to make the chore of cleaning grease manageable. Degrease and clean not only the equipment, but the areas around fryers and stoves making sure to include the vents and associated systems. Wipe up all spills immediately and clean at the end of each shift.
The inside of fryers can be particularly challenging since it takes time for cooking oil to cool before the fryer can be safely cleaned. Depending on what you’re frying, there can be a great amount of residue build up so be sure to attack this job daily. A service like FiltaFry can be beneficial because, as an outside vendor, we relieve employees from this tedious and often dangerous task. Since Filta technicians are trained to clean fryers and bring their own specialized equipment, they can clean fryers far more efficiently than a typical kitchen employee.
Make sure your commercial kitchen is up to par with code enforcement. Regularly check fryers, stoves, vents, vent hoods, and the surrounding areas to ensure they are in proper working order, meet safety regulations, and can pass an inspection. Never leave flammable items like fabric oven mitts, aprons, or towels near heat sources.
The smart kitchen manager adheres to a regular and frequent schedule of drills – not only to prevent grease fires but also to review protocols in case of emergency. It’s human nature to panic in a stressful situation like a fire, but if kitchens run frequent drills, employees will be far better prepared to react calmly and effectively.
Make sure fire extinguishers are close and employees know where they are and how to use them. Check and replace extinguishers frequently. The same advice goes for fire alarms.
How to Extinguish a Grease Fire
U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,410 structures just between 2010 and 2014, according to that NFPA report. Review these tips to reduce potential damage and keep your employees and structures safe.
NEVER use water on a grease fire. Water splashes and will spread the flame.
- Turn off the heat source.
- Cover the pot, pan or fryer with a lid. A fire needs three things to survive: heat, fuel and oxygen and by covering the pot, you cut off its oxygen. Pro tip: always cover front to back, meaning: place the side of the object closest to your body down first, then the farthest side to keep splashing oil from hitting your body.
- Douse the fire with baking soda or salt but a fire extinguisher is best.
To learn more about Filta’s services including fryer cleaning, please call 866-51-FILTA or visit GoFilta.com for 24-hour live chat.
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