Kitchens of all kinds can be homes to numerous fire hazards, but when you’re running a restaurant, the potential for a fire in your kitchen is something you have to be constantly aware of.
This month, the team at Hoyles Fire & Safety is going to take a close look at the particular dangers that restaurants face when it comes to fire, and the importance of having the right fire suppression system in place. If you want to know more about what a fire suppression system is, visit our article here.
Why you should consider a kitchen fire suppression system
On a busy night in a restaurant or other commercial kitchen, you’re likely to have a combination of things going on that together can add up to a substantial fire risk:
- Multiple heat sources – such as ovens and gas hobs – all on at the same time
- Numerous chefs, sous chefs and kitchen assistants all working under often intense pressure to get their particular dish ready on time
- Highly flammable ingredients and materials, such as cooking oils and fats, that can quickly get overheated if accidentally neglected
Under such conditions, it can be easy for a fire to start and get out of hand without the right tools to fight it.
What types of fire suppression systems are used in restaurants?
Fires in restaurant kitchens represent a particular danger, because if they’re tackled in the wrong way, they can quickly make the situation become significantly worse. A standard water-based fire extinguisher should never be used on a fire involving cooking oils; because water and oil don’t mix, it would cause burning oil to splash and in all probability spread the fire further, as well as representing an immediate threat of severe injury to anyone in the vicinity.
For this reason, you need to make sure you have Class F wet chemical fire extinguishers to hand, which have been specifically designed to deal with the fire threats that exist in commercial kitchens.
However, because the danger from kitchen fires can happen suddenly, and those dealing with the situation may panic – a particular problem in kitchens where fires can flare up quickly in an enclosed environment – extinguishers may not always be the best or safest way to tackle them.
Automatic kitchen fire suppression systems can be installed in convenient places like cooker hoods and adjacent cupboards, and target specific appliances and fire risks. If enough heat and/or smoke is detected above and beyond what could reasonably be expected in such an environment, the system will immediately target the appliance in question with the appropriate suppressant. Some systems may also be set up to automatically turn off the heat source at the same time.
How do restaurant kitchen fire suppression systems work?
Fire extinguishers and suppressants used in a commercial kitchen will almost always use wet chemicals as a safe means of tackling any fire involving oils, fats and grease. The chemicals form a soapy blanket that cools the fire, prevents oxygen getting through to feed it further and smothers the flames to prevent them reigniting.
Wet chemicals can also be used against Class A fires involving flammable solids such as paper, cardboard, wood and textiles.
What are the regulations for fire suppression in commercial kitchens?
There are no specific commercial kitchen fire regulations in the UK. However, as with any other commercial premises, a fire risk assessment will be legally required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and any recommendations made as a result of that assessment will be legally enforceable. That is almost certainly going to include appropriate fire extinguishers and suppression systems of the kind outlined above.
Your insurance policy is also likely to include clauses requiring effective fire suppression systems to be installed.
At Hoyles Fire & Safety, we’re your local experts in all aspects of fire safety, including its application within commercial kitchens and restaurants. We can carry out an effective fire risk assessment and make recommendations to the best solution for your particular circumstances. We can also supply, install and maintain effective systems to ensure your premises have the best possible protection against fire.
By Hoyles Fire and Safety Ltd