According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated 7,400 fires at eating and drinking establishments per year. These fires cause $165 million in direct property damage every year. So, what’s a common cause of these damaging disasters? Three out of five fires involved cooking equipment.Though some restaurant franchises are more susceptible to kitchen fires due to their cooking methods, such as steakhouses, it’s the failure to properly clean equipment that leads to 22 percent of all fires.
“The number one thing a restaurant owner can do to prevent damaging kitchen fires is routine cleaning and maintenance to equipment,” said Jim Miller, Vice President of Claims at Intrepid Direct Insurance. “This includes timed cleaning and inspection by both staff and qualified repairmen.”
Miller offers these top things any restaurant owner can do to help prevent and respond to kitchen fires:
- Train staff to regularly clean cooking equipment, including in hard-to-reach areas and internal workings, to ensure all pieces are intact and working properly. During cleaning, instruct them to look for issues like frayed electrical wiring to the heat source. If equipment is broken, call in a trained repairman immediately instead of attempting to repair it on your own.
- Schedule regular equipment inspections by a qualified repairman to look over the general working order of the equipment as well as common issues for specific makes of equipment. For example, exhaust fan systems should receive routine maintenance to ensure proper ventilation and cleaning. Stone fire pizza chimneys require more cleaning and inspections due to the creosote buildup from the wood fire. They also know when to recommend equipment be replaced due to age or poor working condition.
- A working extinguishing system and safety trained employees are paramount in minimizing damage if a kitchen fire breaks out. In addition to sprinkler systems in the kitchen appliances with an open flame (e.g. grills) should be outfitted with fire suppression systems that uses either water or chemicals to put out a fire. Place extinguishers at key areas in the kitchen, such as next to cooking appliances, and train employees on how to use them. Check the National Fire Protection Agency for a guide on fire extinguishers. Owners should test and maintain these systems on a regular basis.
“Employee training on fire safety is an often-overlooked step in kitchen fire safety,” said Miller. “Many frontline restaurant employees are high school- or college-age employees with limited life experience, much less proper industrial kitchen safety experience.”
Fire-prone restaurant franchises are increasingly switching to Intrepid Direct Insurance for their business insurance. As the franchise restaurant insurance expert, we’ve recommended how to prevent, extinguish and react to kitchen fires to minimize their damage.
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Fire is just one of many risks posed to restaurant owners. Intrepid Direct is the franchise restaurant insurance expert, offering safety tips in topics ranging from delivery driving to employment practices liability.