Fires that start in the kitchen account for the majority of restaurant fires and usually have devastating consequences for the business, its owners, and its employees. Many fires can be prevented or greatly reduced by adhering to various codes and standards and applying common sense. Illinois Casualty Company (ICC) follows the National Fire Protection Association standards and requires that all services be completed by certified contractors.
- Fire suppression systems must be installed above all cooking surfaces and inside exhaust hoods and ducts. Suppression systems should be serviced semi-annually and are required to have automatic and manual activation devices, along with automatic fuel and power shut offs.
The system can be automatically activated through fusible links inside the hood and duct system that are temperature sensitive and that melt at varying temperatures, depending on their location. The system can also be manually activated through a wall-mounted pull station, located between the cooking area and an exit. It is important to make sure this pull handle is never blocked by equipment or appliances and that all employees know its location.
- All cooking appliances producing grease-laden vapors need to be fully covered by a commercial exhaust hood. The hood and duct must vent to the exterior of the building and have baffle-type hood filters. The filters catch some of the grease as it is being exhausted to help prevent it from building up in the duct.
Hoods and ducts are required to be inspected and cleaned semi-annually or more often as needed with solid fuel or wok-type cooking. Filters should be in place prior to operating any appliances, and there must not be gaps between filters or holes in the hood, as exhaust fans will pull any flames into the hood and duct system.
- Ashes from wood-fired grills or ovens need to be removed from the building, watered, and stored outdoors in closed metal containers.
- Wet chemical (K Class) fire extinguishers are required in kitchens with any grease or oil operations and are only for use on cooking appliances. All employees need to know where they are located and be trained on how to use them.
- Fryers need to be separated from any appliances with an open flame, such as ranges and grills. This can be accomplished with a 16-inch horizontal separation or 8-inch vertical metal baffle or splash guard. Without this separation, grease can splash into an open flame and flare back, igniting the fryer oil.
- Any appliances used in commercial kitchens need to be commercial quality. Appliances such as countertop electric fryers and electric flat top griddles, are only made for occasional home use, not constant daily use in a commercial setting and are subject to failure and fires. They are typically not found under hoods and suppression or with proper shut offs.
- Rags, towels, and aprons that have any amount of grease or oil can spontaneously combust if not handled
These are just a few of the measures that can help commercial kitchens protect their business from a potential fire loss. You can learn more about insuring your restaurant or tavern with ICC by contacting an ICC agent today. The Find an Agent search on our homepage will help you find an ICC agent in your area.