The restaurant industry is one that carries a large number of risks and exposures due to the nature of the type of services it offers. Perhaps the most serious of these exposures is the risk of a fire breaking out. There is the potential for severe damages, including the total loss of the structure itself.
In fact, commercial cooking activities result in a large number of fires each year, as confirmed by Fire Brigade statistics. You can help to avoid and prevent property damage and interruption to your business by implementing a sound restaurant risk management program and adopting a few simple precautions.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of the equipment should be required by your staff and should include all of the following fixtures and elements:
• Cooking hood filters
The fume extraction hood filters must be cleaned (or exchanged) at a minimum, every two weeks. For busier, larger kitchens, this should be done weekly.
• Cooking hood ducts
The ducting behind the filters, including the extraction fan and motor, should be professionally cleaned at least every six months.
• Change cooking oil regularly
Old or contaminated oil can ignite at much lower temperatures. Oils should be replaced weekly and should be filtered about every two days. For larger kitchens, oils should be changed twice a week and filtered daily.
• Electric motors and pumps
Make certain you are providing clear space between storage and equipment to ensure adequate natural ventilation. Motor housings must be kept free of dust, grease and oil accumulation to avoid accidental igniting which could lead to fire.
• Isolation of gas supplies
The supply of gas should be isolated via the main shut-off valve at the close of trade each day.
In addition, a suitably qualified technician should inspect air conditioning systems, refrigeration and commercial cooking and dishwashing equipment annually or semi-annually. This is particularly important for deep fry cooking equipment, as failure of thermostats is often a major cause of commercial kitchen fires.
Fire extinguishing equipment
Perhaps the most important part of any restaurant risk management plan is fire-extinguishing equipment. An approved fire extinguisher must be wall mounted in a position close to the cooking area, where it will be readily accessible to staff at all times.
Portable fire extinguishers
At least one wet chemical portable fire extinguisher is to be wall mounted in a position close to the cooking area, where it will be readily accessible. Additional extinguishers are added protection and can make for quicker response times. Larger restaurants may wish to consider installing an appropriate automatic fire suppression system to cooking hoods and ducts as part of their restaurant risk management program. These will likely help to better protect their businesses and allay their concerns.