By Venecia Malagon
February 10, 2010
A Grease fire can wreak havoc in a kitchen unexpectedly and without warning. If a collection of oil or grease on a stove is left unattended, it could heat up rapidly and ignite. Because grease and oil are very mobile this type of fire is exceptionally dangerous causing the fire to spread quickly throughout the kitchen.
Astonishingly, when your ancillary system (safety sprinklers) are engaged during a grease fire, they will only add to the problem as water causes grease fires to splash and move around further. Also, because your exhaust system hood fans are drawing air out of the kitchen and up to your roof, this will also aid the fire in climbing through your duct work. Moreover, if your exhaust system is not being cleaned regularly to NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 96 standards, this will speed up the fire spreading process significantly and chances are, the Fire Department will not be able to put out the fire in time to salvage your facility.
So what is the best way to prevent a grease fire?
The most important thing you can do to prevent a grease fire is to train your employees to fully monitor any grease or oil that is being heated at all times. According to the NFPA, unattended cooking is the leading cause of fire in the kitchen. Staying by the fryer or grill is key.
- Heat oil slowly. Oil heats up rapidly and can burst into flames when over-heated.
- Make sure other liquids are not sitting close to the stove, grill, or fryer
If a grease fire does occur, what are the best steps in putting it out?
Always have a fire drill plan in place and train employees to react immediately. Assign specific responsibilities to each of your employees. Although carefully coordinated and timely response by your employees can put out grease fires, remember that safety comes first. Never put yourself in danger and always evacuate the area if there is even the slightest doubt in mind.
- Remind your employees never to use water to put out a grease fire.
- Call 911 immediately. Do not wait to see if you can handle the fire on your own. It is always better safe than sorry.
- Turn off your exhaust system fans if you are able to do so. Make sure your employees are aware of how to turn them off.
- Attempt to smother the grease fire with a pan lid. Be careful with glass lids as they may shatter from the heat of an open flame.
- If the pan lid does not work, smother the fire with baking soda. It will probably take large amounts of baking soda to quench a raging fire.
- Use a fire extinguisher only as a last resort as they may contaminate your kitchen and food. You may find Class K fire extinguishers specially used for grease fires at commercial kitchen supply depot.