In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 simple steps you or your client can take to lower the risk of kitchen fires. Taking a close look at these steps is incredibly important as more than 40 percent and some sources say as much as 59 percent of all commercial kitchen fires are caused by cooking equipment. Typically, it wasn’t maintained or cleaned properly or was located near flammable materials.
Perform regular maintenance
This one is listed first for a reason; a well-maintained kitchen is always the first defense against the risk of kitchen fires. By ensuring technicians inspect all potential sources of fire, they are able to resolve problems before they become disasters.
Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations and perform preventive maintenance. Make sure you are replacing worn parts before they break, replace any consumables and check lubricants to ensure consistent equipment performance.
Establish a regular kitchen equipment maintenance schedule. This helps you consolidate trips and cause as little disruption as possible. Include related tasks, like checking the chimneys of wood-burning pizza ovens for creosote and cleaning greasy buildup from the hidden recesses of kitchen exhaust hoods and deep fat fryers.
Install induction cooktops
Induction cooktops reduce open flames. Induction cooking uses a magnetic field to create an electric current in the pan itself, quickly heating the pan rather than the surrounding surfaces and air.
Because the cooktop itself stays relatively cool, induction cooking is safer and more energy-efficient than conventional cooktops. Single and double cooktops are particularly handy for kitchens with limited space, as well as for cooking stations and demonstrations.
When you start planning for the installation of induction cooking equipment, make sure you request that an electrician calculate the load, and prevents you or your staff from connecting multiple units to the same outlet or group. Typical induction cookers require up to 1800W per (16.3 Amps on 110V). Ensure your equipment supplier recommends a commercial-grade cooktop and resist the urge to use cheap residential models that may look similar but are absolutely not designed for sustained use and may lack important safety features. Never tightly wrap any excess cord as it can easily overheat and become its own source of fire.
Install protective equipment and keep it maintained
Just like the professionals who ensure your cooking equipment is kept in perfect working condition, there are professionals who can maintain all of your kitchen safety equipment. Your kitchen exhaust hood is probably the component that will need the most attention. In addition to regular cleaning, you’ll also need to have it inspected every 6 or 12 months, depending on the capacity and size of your kitchen. Kitchens cooking with solid fuels may even need a monthly cleaning and inspection.
Grease buildup in a hood is one of the most common causes of fires in a commercial kitchen. The NFPA lists all of the “standards for ventilation control and fire protection of commercial cooking operation” in their NFPA 96 publication.
Regular maintenance and inspections are also required for all of the other safety equipment; fire extinguishers, suppression blankets, emergency lighting, first aid kits, signage, sprinklers, alarm systems, hazmat storage and more.
Add surge protection hardware
With circuit boards becoming an integral part of more and more kitchen equipment, it needs protection from power surges and brownouts. Plug-in commercial rated fast-reaction surge protectors to wall outlets or, better yet, replace the outlets with three-level surge protection.
Also, inspect electrical cords for fraying and install cord sleeves to prevent abrasion and pinching, any one of which can spark fires.
Instruct kitchen staff to report any electrical equipment issues immediately and ensure training is provided on the safe operation and location of your safety equipment.
Have the kitchen checked with thermal imaging equipment
Use infrared thermography to inspect equipment for overheating wires, water, and damaged insulation every three to seven years. This extra service alerts you to the risk of fire by identifying hot spots from loose electrical connections, and also can identify water intrusion (which, for example, could occur in motors after floods) and other problems. Consider using thermography to inspect older equipment and, after a disaster, the entire kitchen.
For service technicians, offering thermography is an easy way to offer upgrades to their service offering, and with the latest generation imaging hardware, the investment needed to start in this business is now lower than ever.