commercial kitchens

Fire Safety in Commercial Kitchens: What You Should Know

Nobody thinks they’ll have to deal with a kitchen fire until it happens to them. Fires in commercial kitchens occur more than most people realize and can cause devastating losses for a business. Thousands of people get injured every year.

The first thing franchise restaurant owners can do to mitigate their kitchen fire risk is to get a clear understanding of the statistics. How often do they occur, and what causes them?

The National Fire Protection Association keeps detailed statistics on structure fires in eating and drinking establishments. The data helps franchise operators better understand where to pay their attention to prevent catastrophic losses.

In the above report, two-thirds (68%) of fires in restaurants were small and didn’t spread beyond the origin area. Deep fat fryers were involved in one out of every five fires (21%), while ranges and cooktops were involved in 14% of fires. Failure to clean was a factor in many of the fires reported.

Owners/operators need to understand and comply with fire codes & standards. Preventative maintenance, staff training, having a detailed fire safety plan, and carrying the appropriate commercial insurance designed for franchise restaurants will help ensure owners/operators are prepared for any fire risks that may occur. 

Identifying the hazards in commercial kitchens

There are three primary sources of fires in restaurant commercial kitchens, the deep fat fryers, griddles, and ranges. The most significant risk comes from the deep fat fryer because of the explosive liquid fat heated above the flashpoint.

Deep fat fryer fire safety

Thermostat malfunction is the primary cause of deep fat fryer fires in restaurants. When installing a new deep fat fryer, make sure the thermal couple is present and functioning and ensure the high-temperature limit switch is functioning.

Other ways to prevent a deep fat fryer fire include:

  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Remove as much moisture as possible from food before cooking.
  • Never put frozen food into hot grease.
  • Keep oil at the recommended temperature.
  • Heat the oil slowly.
  • Add food slowly to avoid hot oil splattering.
  • Keep flammable items away from the fryer.
  • Refer to and follow procedures in your O&T manual.

Range safety

Most commercial kitchens will use gas stoves and ranges as their main heating element. The cooking flame can easily set cooking ingredients on fire if they are left cooking too long. The fire can also burn sleeves, towels, and cooking tools. Range fire prevention is best conducted by creating a culture of safety within your kitchen. The best way to prevent fire hazards is by exercising constant vigilance. 

The griddle or grill

Many restaurants that prepare hamburgers are using a grill surface throughout daily operations. Owners/operators should keep grills as clean as possible. This will help prevent grease fires since grease vapors are also a big problem. The hood over the range and griddle shouldn’t be overlooked.

Get the eBook Today

What to do if there is a kitchen fire?

If a kitchen fire occurs, staff should be trained on the proper procedures to manage the situation. Below are some protocols that should be follower:  

  • Evacuate staff and guests.
  • If the fire is active on cook surfaces or hood ductwork and the automatic fire suppression system has not been activated, manually activate it but operating the Pull Station. The manual Pull Station is usually wall-mounted near cooking equipment.
  • Notify the fire department and 911 because sometimes the fire alarm signal will not successfully transmit.

What to do after a kitchen fire?

After a fire is put out, owners/operators have a long list of things to do and be aware of before reopening for service. 

Other ways to prevent a deep fat fryer fire include:

  • Once you call the fire department, the building is under the fire department’s control until they release it. 
  • Follow your O&T manual’s procedures for notifications of a fire.
  • Contact your hood system company and plumber to reset your fire safety systems.
  • Get in touch with a clean-up and restoration company to begin mitigation services.
  • If power is out, make arrangements to store frozen and cold food supplies safely.
  • Be prepared for the health department to order all food to be thrown away.
  • Before reopening, clean all ductwork and replace filters.

Training your staff is always the best way to mitigate risks as a franchise owner and prevent fires in commercial kitchens.

Developing long partnerships

McGowan Program Administrators are experts in helping restaurant owners/operators get the insurance they need to ensure maximum protection. The McGowan Package Insurance Program for McDonald’s Franchisees offers competitively priced quotes, policies that are issued quickly and accurately, and we go the extra mile to find the coverages that are the best option for your business.

Learn more and get resources here.

Share this post