Restaurant Insurance Tips - How To Prevent Kitchen Fires

Restaurant Insurance Tips - How To Prevent Kitchen Fires

Kitchen fires pose a serious safety hazard in your restaurant.  A fire can emanate from a number of key risks, but the most common cause is flare-ups during food preparation, or gas / electrical connection defects to your oven or hob.

Fire losses can prove costly, both in terms of the direct loss under Restaurant Insurance claims, but also the additional financial and emotional losses.  Whilst a business insurance policy will normally extend to cover Business Interruption for loss of trading income, the stress and worry of a dealing with a large fire is impossible to quantify.

Simple Good Housekeeping Can Prevent Fires

The good news is that most fire losses can be prevented by undertaking some simple good housekeeping processes; the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking - by imposing simple kitchen rules across your kitchen staff will remove this risk.

Kitchen rules should also extend to work wear, when working in the kitchen, staff should always wear close-fitting clothing with short or tightly rolled sleeves. Loose-fitting, baggy clothing, especially hanging sleeves, may drape into pans or open flames.  Staff with long hair should be tied back, and refrained from using flammable hair products.

3 Key Areas for Best Practice in Kitchen Safety

#1 Food Preparation Area

  • Keep hot pads, oven gloves, wooden utensils, food packaging and towels away from any heat source.
  • Never leave your cooking unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off all heat sources.
  • Use the lowest heat setting possible that will cook food thoroughly and safely.
  • Do not place metal or foil in a microwave oven; it will cause sparking which can lead to a fire.
  • If you notice sparks, turn off the microwave immediately, unplug it and report the incident to your supervisor.

#2 At the End of Your Shift

  • Check hobs, ovens and appliances to make sure they are off before leaving.
  • Clean up all spills.

#3 Take Care of Your Appliances

  • Unplug portable appliances when they are not in use.
  • Always keep the vent-hood fan on while cooking on a hob.
  • Clean up spills, grease and messes on the hob and in the oven immediately.
  • Exercise caution when lighting ovens with gas ranges that do not have a self-lighting feature.

If a Fire Does Occur – Don’t Panic!

If the worst happens and a fire does occur, turn off the gas or electricity fuelling the fire if you can do so safely. If the fire is in a pan on the hob, turn off the appliance and cover the pan with a lid to smother the flames.

Make sure you are wearing an oven glove. To keep the fire from restarting, do not move the pan, and leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool. When these methods do not work:

  • Use a fire extinguisher, bicarbonate of fizzy drinks or a fire blanket to put out the fire.
  • Sprinkle the bicarbonate of fizzy drinks on top of the pan.
  • Spray the fire extinguisher in a sweeping motion while standing at least one metre away from the flames.

Training is Key to Safety

Where some restaurants fall down is ensuring that all staff (not just kitchen staff) are fully trained in the management of fire risks, both in terms of reducing fire risk and how to deal with a kitchen fires.  New and existing staff should receive full initial training as part of their indiction, as well as ongoing reminder and refresher training.  We would also recommend this is fully documented as part of your risk management programme.

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About the Author

Jon Norman

I’m passionate about family, sport, technology and business.

In fact, I have always been fascinated by business, whether it was running the school tuck-shop or my Saturday job in the local store, I was always looking for ways to improve or view things differently.

I have enjoyed an amazing career fast approaching 25 years in the insurance industry, which has given me real insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by SME businesses in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.

I co-founded Insync Insurance, to offer companies a new way to buy and manage their business insurance. A synergy of digital servicing and personal expertise - utilising the latest technology to enhance relationships, not to replace them.