Around 10% of fires within pubs occur within the kitchen. These fires often result in a significant financial loss, with a high risk of serious injury or even death. In the UK, on average 17 people are killed or injured every day in accidental fires that start in their kitchen.
Burns caused by hot cooking oil can cause serious injuries, so make sure your staff are fully trained on how to safely operate and clean the equipment.
Kitchen fires often start from cooking appliances and can be spread by fat or grease deposits on surrounding walls, or in filters of extraction systems. These need to be adequately and regularly cleaned – including all areas that are not easily visible or accessible.
Cooker hoods and grease traps should be cleaned weekly (don’t forget the filter). Any extraction system internal ductwork, walls and extraction fan should be cleaned every six months. See separate article on Kitchen Ventilation Hoods.
Deep fat fryers can often be a cause of fire. The oil used should be regularly changed and the equipment tested annually by a suitably qualified electrician, if it has an “over-temperature” cut out switch make sure it’s working.
To reduce the risk of fire within a kitchen:
Train your staff on the safe use of kitchen equipment, cleaning schedules, fire procedures, evacuation and use of fire extinguishers.
Has all extraction and cooking equipment been regularly checked, serviced and maintained by a competent contractor?
Ensure that you have smoke detectors / a fire alarm system and it’s maintained and tested regularly.
Identify how and where to turn off your electrical and gas supply in an emergency. Consider relocating these isolation points if they cannot be accessed quickly and safely.
Contractors should carry out a thorough clean of the extraction duct, inside the hood and fan throughout the full length of the duct, on a six monthly basis.
Do not leave cooking equipment and pans unattended. Take them off the heat if you have to leave the kitchen. When you’ve finished cooking, make sure the cooker or oven is turned off. (This is not only sound safety advice, but will save you money!)
Have you got enough fire extinguishers and fire blankets?
Do you have a fire drill just for the kitchen?
Deliberate ignition is the most common cause of fire in the UK; during June 2004 to June 2005 the insured cost was estimated to be £110 million. Arson is particularly high in our industry and deliberate ignition is the most common cause of fire related claims. To reduce the risk of arson you should consider where a fire could be easily started.
Make sure walls, fences, doors and windows are in good repair and provided with good quality locks.
Carry out a Written Fire Risk Assessment.
External lighting will act as a deterrent.
Keep external waste (such as bins/skips etc), storage to a minimum and preferably well away from the building and locked in position.
Keep the weeds down! Vegetation can also act as a fuel and should be cut back and removed as often as required.
Ensure that all doors and windows are shut and kept locked whilst the pub is not open to the public.
Know where all keys are and any borrowed keys are returned.
Provide a metal receptacle behind letterboxes and seal any large gaps underneath doors etc.
Be vigilant for any suspicious behaviour.
Maintain good relations with your customers and staff (arson is often reported after falling out with customers or after sacking staff!)
Practice your evacuation route, develop an escape plan.