In the United States, more than 8,000 fires in commercial kitchens are reported annually. This can be devastating for the businesses as they cause approximately $246 in damage every year. Cooking equipment was a part of the cause in at least 57% of those fires. These fires may not always be preventable but having a working kitchen fire suppression system can stop the fire from doing more damage.
For fire protection, fire extinguishers may be restaurants best weapon. Portable extinguishers successfully put out 2,000 fires. There are substantial requirements for their usage and they must be serviced by a qualified fire extinguisher servicing company.
A fire extinguisher is a first rate kitchen fire suppression system but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations for how employees of a commercial kitchen use them. First of all, they must be trained when they are first hired and then at least once a year afterwards. They need to be trained on how to use them and taught to recognize when their usage is appropriate. Companies are also encouraged to designate certain employees who will be the ones authorized to use the extinguishers.
OSHA also has requirements for kitchen fire suppression installation. Extinguishers need to be mounted. While they have set no height requirements, they must be accessible to the employees. Local building and fire codes may have additional requirements for this form of kitchen fire suppression system, these codes typically include provisions from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There are also requirements about how to service a fire extinguisher. This type of kitchen fire suppression system must be properly maintained by a qualified fire extinguisher servicing company. They need to be inspected monthly and serviced annually. The monthly inspection need only be a visual one but the annual inspection is more involved. All parts such as the mechanical sections, fire suppression agent and delivery system need to be throughly checked and maintained. All of this must be completely documented for certification and approval of the device be made.
There is an additional requirement for fire extinguishers used in commercial kitchen settings. Rather than having yearly inspections and servicing by a contractor, these systems must be checked every six months.
Fire prevention is incredibly important for any business that uses cooking equipment. This is especially true if deep fryers are used as they are a leading cause of fires. They are responsible for at least 9% of fires. The next biggest offender is the kitchen range. They cause at least 7% of all fires. While these numbers may appear low, given the 8,000 fires reported annually, those numbers are really higher than they may appear.
Preventing fires is not just about protecting property. There is a reason OSHA has such stringent guidelines. Fires present a real safety threat to any employees or patrons of an establishment and those risks cannot be taken lightly. It is for that reason that companies are required to adhere to strict and standardized rules and regulations. Preventing a fire from occurring in the first place is the perfect way to protect your business, employees and customers but having a working fire extinguisher (along with other fire suppression systems) is the next best thing.