Every year there are more than eight thousand fires in commercial kitchens nationwide. These cause at least $246 million in damages. The good news is that portable fire extinguishers can be very effective at putting out restaurant fires. More than two thousand were analyzed and in cases where portable fire extinguishers were used, the fires were put out over 80% of the time. Most of the kinds of fire extinguisher service that are used in these businesses are very effective at preventing deaths, injuries and property damage.
Tips to Keeping Your Business Safe from Fires:
- Link your cooking appliances to your exhaust system. When staff turn on any of your cooking appliances, the exhaust system should be wired to go on automatically. These systems prevent a fire suppression system from activating simply because the temperature is too high. When staff members neglect to turn on the exhaust fans, heat can build up and lead to a false start of your fire extinguisher service.
- Your fire suppression system should go off automatically if there is a fire. Make sure your commercial kitchen fire suppression system is set to go off immediately when there is a fire. If you do have a real fire, make sure the fire suppression system gets started before you use your portable fire extinguishers. Most oils can ignite once they reach a certain temperature on their own. If you try to begin your fire suppression efforts with the fire extinguisher system, you can make matters worse.
- Have a plan for employees and patrons. Make a plan for what staff will do if you have a fire in your restaurant or business. The first goal is to make sure everyone gets out of the building safely. Have an evacuation plan, designate certain people as the staff to decide when to use your portable fire extinguishers and set a place to meet up outside. Train all new hires what to do if there is a fire and periodically revisit the subject with your staff members. Make sure your plan includes a way to account for all staff who are working when you have a fire (or other emergency).
- Have your fire extinguisher service and your fire suppression system checked regularly. Every six months you should have your fire extinguisher service and fire suppression systems inspected and serviced by a qualified contractor. Most restaurant insurance policies require this but having it done will also give you a level of peace of mind that you cannot get any other way. Many insurance carriers require you have these systems checked on a regular basis for your coverage to be valid. Check with your insurance carrier to make sure you are in compliance with their rules and regulations.
- No fire suppression system is complete without an alarm system. Make sure you have an automated alarm system hooked in with your fire suppression system. As great as your systems ca be, it is essential that you have something in place to monitor your business when you are closed. While most fires are caused by problems with kitchen equipment and happen while you are open, it is possible to have a fire develop when no one is in the restaurant.
- Check your emergency exit lights every month. Even with a great evacuation plan, you need to make sure your lights, alarms and signs are working. It is best to test them at least once a month. People who are unfamiliar with your business will rely on these during an emergency.
Having a fire in your business can be a terrifying experience for your staff, your customers and even passersby. It does not have to be the end of your business. If you have the right fire suppression system in place and working, an adequate fire3 extinguisher service set up as a back up and have set up an efficient and effective emergency evacuation plan, you can make sure no one is killed or seriously injured. These systems can also protect your property from fire damage and help you make sure your insurance policy covers your damage to get back on your feet after a fire.