How to Keep Your Kitchen Cooking

A fire in your restaurant can injure your employees and guests. It can also cause your business to shut down for repairs and harm your company’s reputation. A surprisingly large portion of restaurants never reopen after a fire. Here are some tips to keep your kitchen cooking.


Maintain Your Fire Suppression Systems

  • Have your system tested and serviced by a licensed professional every 6 months.
  • Have your fire extinguishers tested and serviced every 12 months.
  • Make sure the caps are on the discharge nozzles—they protect the opening from becoming clogged with grease and debris.
  • Make sure your system is UL300 compliant. Dry chemical systems are no longer legal for kitchens with fryers.

2. Clean Your Hood & Exhaust Ducts

  • Clean your filters several times per week.
  • Empty the grease receptacle on your roof fan frequently.
  • A build-up of grease inside your exhaust system can cause a major fire. Use the chart below to determine how often you need to have your system inspected and cleaned by a professional exhaust cleaning company.
  • INSPECT THE HOOD CLEANER’S WORK. Take the filters out and make sure the fusible links are clean, and shine a flashlight up the vertical duct — it should be completely clean. Require digital pictures of every portion of your exhaust system: all fusible links, plenum, fan, and the entire duct looking both directions from each duct access door.

Washington Fire Code

Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Frequency Requirements:

  • Monthly – Solid fuels such as wood, mesquite or charcoal
  • Quarterly – Kitchens with high grease volume, which is defined as any one of the following: 24 hour cooking, charbroiling, wok cooking, extensive frying, or any cooking that deposits more than 2 mm of grease in your exhaust system
  • Semi–Annually – Kitchens with moderate grease production
  • Occasional use kitchens with low grease production such as churches and day camps

Check Your Fryers

Fryers are a major source of fires and injuries, and they deposit a large amount of grease in the exhaust system.

Make sure your fryer is equipped with a high temperature shut-off switch—it will prevent your oil from overheating.

Are your fryers located next to a gas range, charbroiler, or other open flame appliance? If so, the fire code requires at least 16 inches separation between the fryer and the appliance, unless you have an 8 inch stainless steel baffle between the fryer and the appliance.


Train Your Employees

Show all employees how to manually activate the fire suppression system (the pull stations).

Employees need to know where the fire extinguishers are located, how to use them, and which extinguishers to use on a grease fire (K class only—the silver ones, not the red ones).

Emergency evacuation plans—they should know how to respond to an emergency to protect themselves and your guests.

Explain the need to keep water away from the fryer oil.


Don’t Forget Fire Safety Basics

  • If you rearrange cooking equipment under the hood, contact your fire suppression service company so they can re-arrange the fire suppression nozzles.
  • Be careful with sauté cooking and flame-ups—the flames can set fire to your filters and exhaust system.
  • Maintain clear and uncluttered walkways and storage areas
  • Don’t use extension cords or frayed electrical cords.
  • Provide K class fire extinguishers in your kitchen.
  • Clean cooking surfaces and kitchen equipment frequently.
  • Keep combustibles well away from hot surfaces.
  • Inspect all wiring often to eliminate frayed wires or over use.
  • Maintain fire insurance, and be aware that insurance companies are not obligated to cover losses caused by lack of, or improper maintenance.
  • Check for grease accumulation on your roof—it is a fire hazard and will damage the roof membrane.