Your local Chinese, Restaurant or Cafe: The potential for fire

The case for robust precautions against fire within businesses that serve the public are defined by extensive regulation, legislation and laws. However the range of potential fire threats within a workplace such as a restaurant or takeaway equates to an imposing landscape to manage, and despite the most stringent health and safety guidelines in the world the UK still faces significant numbers of fires within restaurants and food outlets. Over the course of 2015 alone there were 5,041 fires in restaurants, cafes, pubs, which resulted in 270 casualties, of which three were 5 fatalities (Chief Fire Officers Association 2015).

Honing in on the potential hazards

Restaurants and food outlets are home to many fire hazards – such is the nature of a business where there are so many forms of electricity and gas. Wherever there is energy – there is potential for fire and here we summarise some of the most common causes of fires within restaurants.

– Poor housekeeping practices: Fire is given a helping hand within areas that are cluttered, and blocked hallways and exits serve as a potential death trap for those who may be attempting to escape a fire.

– Poorly maintained electrical equipment: Electrical equipment that isn’t frequently PAT tested isn’t only illegal – it’s a route to increasing risks of fire through faulty electrical items (a particular culprit of which is where there are frayed cords).

– Open flames: Open flames are, of course, common within the average kitchen and are likely used all working day through. Ensuring that your staff have the proper clothing (with no loose sleeves) and practice good hair hygiene (with it tied back at all times) can help you overcome the two most common causes of fire from open flames.

– Incorrect storage of flammable materials: Flammable materials and packaging (such as canisters and cooking oil) must be stored well away from the open flames and heat sources that are commonly found within the kitchen area.

Employers: Your responsibilities are wide and far ranging

As an employer you have a responsibility toward both your employees as well as your customers in ensuring that your premises are as safe as possible. The following tips form the basic building blocks for good fire safety.

  1. Ensure that your employees know what to do in the event of a fire

Your employees should be fully trained on how they should use a fire extinguisher; yet it’s equally as important that they understand not to fight a fire themselves, instead opting to sound the alarm and call the fire department from an outside (and safe) area.

  1. Ensure that your exit signs are in good working order

Exit signs should be checked each day as they may serve as a vital helping hand in pointing customers and employees to safety in the event of a fire.

  1. Promote good housekeeping and keep walkways uncluttered

Hallways and walkways should be completely free from clutter, with only a purpose-built storage area serving as a place for stock, tables, chairs and any other item that lacks a home.

  1. Invest within proper lighting

Clear lighting may well be the defining difference when it comes to an emergency situation where smoke obscures the view within your premises.

  1. Ensure that your staff are emptying out grease traps regularly

Grease traps should be emptied multiple times a day to ensure that they don’t serve as a fire hazard.

At Ductbusters, one of our many services is the thorough cleaning and overhauling of the vital extraction systems that are found within the kitchens of the busiest restaurants and takeaway outlets. Contact us today for kitchen extract cleaning that drives down the risk of fire through the build-up of grease and debris.

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