Every business needs to protect itself against emergency situations, but restaurants are especially vulnerable. With about 8,000 restaurant fires occurring annually between 2006 and 2010 and a resulting $246 million in loss, it certainly pays to prevent that hazard altogether. Here are four things your restaurant needs in order to be protected against fires.
Wet Chemical Hood System
Most restaurant fires start in the kitchen with food. So it makes sense you'd want to have a system in place to nip the problem right where it starts.
These wet chemical systems are specifically designed and installed in and around the hood to protect high-end cooking appliances such as hoods, exhaust ducts, deep fryers, grills, broilers, griddles, and pretty much any range top.
So how do they work?
Once a fire is detected, they release a potassium carbonate solution, and this solution reacts with the cooking oils to produce a foam that cools everything down in an instant. These systems are the preferred method for preventing re-ignition, which is common with grease fires that tend to spread.
Water Sprinkler System
These fire preventatives have improved drastically over the years, now proving to be 98-99% effective at controlling fires, so long as the owners keep the valves open at all times.
They work a little differently than a wet chemical system in that a sprinkler will actually "suffocate" the fire with water and cool down the surface by releasing steam. And if the need to evacuate arises, they will work continuously until the fire department arrives.
Now, you never want to rely on only one resource when it comes to extinguishing fires. That's why when you combine a sprinkler system with a wet chemical hood system, your business is doubly protected.
Some business owners worry about water damage with sprinkler systems, but consider this: if the fire department comes out and puts the fire hose to use, you're looking at much more extensive damage. So an effective sprinkler system could actually result in less damage overall.
Another proven advantage is that only the sprinklers in the surrounding area of the fire will release water when needed. So if you have a small kitchen fire that's quickly extinguished, your customers may never know.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
This isn't just a good idea. It's the law to have at least one class K extinguisher on hand. Class K extinguishers are a little different from the others in that they're specifically designed to put out "kitchen" fires. They work similarly to a wet chemical system contained in a hood, working to extinguish the fire via foam. They also spray a mist as opposed to coming out with force that could spread the fire.
For maximum protection, it's advised to have an ABC extinguisher as well. These are your standard, red extinguishers rated to deal with fires involving paper and wood, cloth, electrical components, and flammable liquids. They are perfectly suited for the customer portion of your restaurant, particularly if you use table candles.
Highly Trained Employees
According to OSHA, fires are the most common emergency to plan for, and well-trained employees can make all the difference, starting with teaching them how to clean.
Most restaurant fires are caused by dirty hoods, vents, and ceilings, so your employees should be trained on frequent cleaning. To ensure this gets done, the National Fire Protection Association requires hood inspections every six months. Also, storing combustibles too close to the cooking area is a big no-no, and a grease-covered surface can quickly ignite near an open flame. All employees, not just the cooks, should be made aware of these facts.
When it comes to portable fire extinguishers, they should only be used by employees that have been trained on how to safely use them. This training should occur at first hire and annually thereafter. The good news is that no formal training is required as this is something you can conduct yourself, keeping training costs down.
And remember, if you do provide fire extinguishers and expect any of your employees to evacuate in case of a fire, then you must have what's known as an Emergency Action Plan. This is a written document that clearly outlines what all employees should do in case of an emergency.
For more information about what sort of fire extinguishers and sprinklers would be best for your business, contact a company like Tri County Fire Protection.