If you’ve watched films and television programmes like Masterchef, Boiling Point or anything involving Gordon Ramsey, you’ll know that commercial kitchens can not only be very busy but also very stressful places to work.
And all that is going on while people are dealing with numerous fire sources and materials that, if you lose concentration, can easily catch fire and get out of control very quickly. As if that weren’t enough, the fires that happen in kitchens need special measures and extinguishers to deal with them – get it wrong and it’s easy to make the situation much worse.
This article will examine the things you need to be aware of to reduce the risk of a fire in your commercial kitchen, while also looking at the best ways to tackle one should the worst happen.
What are the common causes of fire in commercial kitchens?
- Distractions and lack of concentration – when dealing with hot oil and fat, constant supervision is needed to ensure that they don’t make the short journey from a safe cooking temperature of 205˚C to a more dangerous 230˚C, at which flammable vapours are given off. The risk of spontaneous ignition starts to become significant when the temperature rises to over 300˚C.
- Faulty equipment – much of the equipment used in commercial kitchens is electrical, which can give off sparks when not in prime condition. That could prove disastrous if it happens in the vicinity of hot oils or fat.
- Dirty extraction systems – grease can accumulate in extraction units and ducts and can also easily be ignited by sparks or flames.
- Poor training – given the quantity of significant fire risks in a commercial kitchen, the last thing you want is people who haven’t been properly trained in all the necessary aspects of fire safety measures and procedures required.
How can you reduce fire risk in commercial kitchens?
Fire suppression systems
As we’ve already indicated, fires involving hot oil and fat can not only start quickly, but can also very easily get out of control. Commercial kitchen fire suppression systems are located in areas where there is significant risk and can automatically detect a fire and use targeted wet chemical extinguishant to tackle it. You can read more about the importance of fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens in our previous blog.
- Explosion-resistant lights
Glass can shatter when exposed to high temperatures, adding another significant safety risk to the mix. Explosion-resistant lighting is usually enclosed in a steel or aluminium frame and uses thick lenses that won’t crack or shatter in a fire.
- Regular maintenance of equipment
It’s important that you establish a rigid schedule so that all your equipment is regularly inspected and serviced to ensure it is safe to use.
Frequent cleaning to reduce build up of combustible substances
To minimise the potential for fires caused by accumulated grease in extraction ducts and other parts of the kitchen, ensure that these risk areas are regularly and thoroughly cleaned.
While a fire suppression system can cover parts of your kitchen where you know the risk is particularly great, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cover the whole kitchen in this way. So wet chemical fire extinguishers should also be located around the kitchen – remember that these are the only extinguishers that can safely be used on fires involving oil, fat and grease.
- Fire safety training
Ensure all members of staff working in your kitchen are fully trained so that they know not only how easily fires can start, but also what they should do if one does. Regular refresher training should also be put in place so that no one becomes complacent about the risks.
What are the fire safety regulations for restaurants?
As with all other commercial premises, the key fire safety regulations applying to restaurants and other businesses operating a commercial kitchen can be found in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The main element of this will be your annual fire risk assessment, which will identify significant risks at your premises as well as establish evacuation procedures for both staff and guests in the event of a fire.
You also need to make sure that your cooking appliances are fixed securely in place and are attended at all times when in use. Appropriate fire fighting equipment should be provided – as well as fire suppressant systems and wet chemical fire extinguishers, this is also likely to include fire blankets.
Trusted commercial kitchen fire safety with Hoyles
If you manage a commercial kitchen in or near Leeds, Bradford or Huddersfield and need professional help with fire safety at your premises, the expert team at Hoyles Fire & Safety can help.
For many years, we’ve been supporting local businesses of all kinds to protect their premises, staff and visitors from the threat of fire and be compliant with their legal obligations.
If you want to know more or book a fire risk assessment for your business, get in touch with us today.
By Hoyles Fire and Safety Ltd