Fires in eating and drinking establishments in the U.S. cause injuries, deaths and millions of dollars of property damage every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Recognize National Fire Prevention Day — Oct. 9 — by making fire prevention strategies top of mind for kitchen managers and chefs.
Greg Meleney, a commercial kitchen eqiupment technician and CFESA Master at Electric Motor Repair Company recomments avoiding these top four threats often seen in the field:
No. 1: Irregular (or Lack of) Cleaning
Cleaning commercial kitchen equipment every day can be a tedious process, but it is critical to fire prevention. Exhaust ducts will collect grease, which can affect the ventilation of the kitchen hood and cause a fire.
When first installing the equipment, schedule additional preventative maintenance every six months, then increase
or decrease maintenance based on equipment usage.
No. 2: Out of Sight, out of Mind
Because gas lines are almost always located out of sight, behind kitchen equipment, problems often go unnoticed until gas is leaking into the air. Avoid the problem by regularly moving kitchen equipment away from the wall to properly inspect and clean lines. Look for grease and food buildup, which deteriorate the lines.
Wall outlets and circuit breaker panels are also usually out of sight lines and need to be checked regularly. A good time to check outlets, which are susceptible to moisture and corrosion, is when kitchen equipment is already pulled out for a gas line check.
Circuit breaker panels should remain free of obstruction by three to five feet. Typically located at the rear of the restaurant, they frequently become blocked by trash receptacles, products or other debris.
No. 3: Creating Carbon
Kitchen teams need to understand how to properly dispose of grease buildup when cleaning flattop stoves or the inside of an oven. Grease that is scraped away into a tray or not cleaned immediately can harden into a carbon buildup that acts like charcoal, which can easily start a fire.
Oil in deep-vat fryers, which becomes dirty from overuse, can also build up in the form of carbon. Prevent this by filtering the oil daily.
In the event of a fire due to oven spills, turn off the oven and close the doors to suffocate the flames. Once cool, clean the oven thoroughly and properly dispose of the charred food.
No. 4: A Food Jam
We are often called to assist kitchen crews with conveyor toasters. Don’t make the common mistake of continuing to use the toaster without removing the jammed food, which is clearly a target for fires. Instead, unplug the device, let it cool and then remove the item. Never try to remove a food item while the equipment is still connected to a power source.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable by neglecting fire threats. Maintain regular checkpoints and keep the above four factors front and center in your fire prevention plan.