In a professional kitchen, crews have a lot of things to pay attention to and many details to consider before, during, and after each fast-paced table service. Along with all of those decisions about food quality, delegation, and task management, it's very important for chefs to always consider kitchen safety. Kitchen fire safety, in particular, is extremely important.
Kitchen fires can wreak havoc on a restaurant or food service business. If you have a significant fire, the cost can more than cancel out days or even weeks of kitchen work. That's not to mention the loss of business that will occur while the restaurant tries to rebuild. In addition to having adequate insurance, there are many things that restaurants can do to decrease or practically eliminate the risk of an out-of-control kitchen fire. Pay attention to these tips to make sure your business is protected to the fullest extent possible.
Install Fire Safety Equipment in Your Kitchen
Ask any firefighter and they’ll tell you having basic, working equipment is fundamental to any kind of fire safety, including kitchen fire safety. Install adequate fire alarms and smoke detectors in every space where food is cooked. If you only have one small kitchen, that’s one space. However, if you have an overflow facility or satellite kitchen elsewhere, keep those locations stocked, too. Businesses without these items are taking too big of a risk.
You also need to keep kitchen extinguishers handy. Experts consider wet chemical fire extinguishers the best type of fire extinguisher to fight potential oil or grease fires labeled “class F” fires by professionals. Any kind of fire extinguisher, though, is going to be a powerful tool if a fire breaks out, as long as it’s operational. Test your safety gear regularly to make sure.
Never Leave Hot Items Unattended
According to expert surveys, the number one cause of kitchen fire is unattended cooking. Kitchen staff should always keep a careful eye on anything cooking at a high temperature, in hot oil, or over a high flame. That includes stoves and ovens, toaster ovens and fryers, or anything else you're using to cook in the kitchen. In addition to unattended cooking, there’s also a new phenomenon called distracted cooking. In other words, if you're feeling tired or mentally absent, take a break. It only takes one incident to start a fire that can devastate a kitchen or even an entire building. Even something that seems innocuous can be a fire hazard. You might not think there's any chance of the oven catching fire, but if something happens to slip against the red-hot oven bar that's creating all of that cloistered heat, it can and will ignite.
Clear Trash and Combustibles
Kitchen fires can easily occur when a piece of packaging or a kitchen tool, such as an oven mitt or towel, gets too close to the range top. For the best kitchen fire safety practices, have a plan to deal with these types of fires, and keep loose materials far away from cooking surfaces.
Plan Ahead for Grease and Oil Fires
Oil and grease fires are a major cause of kitchen fires. When you look up how to put out a kitchen fire involving hot oil, you'll see that in some cases, quickly putting a lid on a pan or pot can solve the problem. If that doesn't work or if it’s too high risk to attempt, call 911 immediately. The phrase “better safe than sorry” comes to mind here. Err on the side of caution and call the fire department.
Have an Exit Plan
It’s also essential that you and your team have an exit plan. If you're battling the fire yourself or waiting until the professionals arrive, never put your back to the fire. Make sure there's never fire or fire risk between you and an exit. This is a fundamental way to keep everyone safe.
Show Your Work
If you have taken all these precautions and have the right fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in place, your staff is attentive, and you have an exit plan, make it known. You might get key breaks on your insurance, and you'll be burnishing your reputation as a top local food service business with the right kind of care and attention to operational detail. These tips can help your kitchen be a safe place and decrease the chances of extensive damage from some mishap involving heat or flame. At Chefs’ Toys, we are proud to offer a wide range of cooking gear to our visitors, as well as advice that draws on our own extensive experience in kitchens. We are “for chefs, by chefs,” and our staff knows what it’s like to manage a kitchen. Let us help you fine-tune your food service operations.