In business that involves food preparation, it’s not unusual to have fantasized about a fireproof restaurant at one time or another. Accidents are common in the industry, and as much as possible, you want to avoid incidents that result in serious liability.
Every year, it is stated that almost 8,000 restaurants catch fire. You can prepare to prevent an accident like this even though nobody can foresee when it will occur. Your management process should include the implementation and observation of fire hazards.
Here’s a great overview of how fire safety plays an important role in your restaurant business. Learn what are the basic requirements, equipment, and some safety tips to build a strong foundation about restaurant safety.
Customers and employees can be at risk if there is cooking equipment on-site and grease fires are possible. Restaurant fire safety can be improved if the design takes fire safety into account.
Unlike other environments, restaurants are at particular risk of fire. Cooking process hazards such as burning open flames, using cleaning chemicals, using paper products, and using oils present numerous chances for a fire to go out of control.
As a restaurateur, managing fire safety may be one of the last things on your mind as you cope with the stress of managing a profitable restaurant. But the importance of Fire Safety in restaurants cannot be overstated.
Upon re-opening the restaurant, you should maintain all the kitchen equipment and make sure that fire extinguishers are in the kitchen to extinguish any fire before it spreads.
Law and regulations concerning fire safety may vary according to your location. Each country, region, and city have established different laws to ensure that fire safety, especially in restaurants, will be strictly implemented.
It’s your responsibility, as an owner, to check out with your National and Local government on what type of permits and licenses you have to secure to comply with this type of legality.
In the UK, 528,601 fire-related incidents will have been attended by the end of December 2020. Over the last five years, there have been 153,278 fires, an increase of seven percent. 15,005 of the total were commercial premises.
Businesses are unable to earn profits when fire destroys their commercial properties, and their reputation can be damaged as a result of a fire. Keep in mind that most businesses that suffered from major incidents may not recover for eighteen months, or, even worse, may close permanently.
Coordinating with your local safety officer should be on your management checklist. If you’re not set to meet yet, here are some of the most common requirements you need to accomplish to operate smoothly and safely.
In a business or non-domestic premises, you are responsible for fire safety if you are:
- The employer
- The business owner
- The landlord of the building
- A tenant or the one who occupies a building
- Any person responsible for controlling a premise, such as a building manager, risk assessor, or managing agent
It is known that you are the responsible person. To fulfill your responsibilities, you must work together if more than one person is responsible.
A Fire Safety Order does apply if you have to pay guests, such as those who visit your bed and breakfast, guest house, or who rent self-catering accommodation.
As the responsible person you must:
- Ensure that the premises are regularly assessed for fire risk
- You should discuss the risks with your staff or representatives
- Ensure adequate fire safety measures are in place and are maintained
- Be prepared for emergencies
- Inform, train, and instruct staff on fire safety
Check out this guide to ensuring your property is fire-proof.
What are the non-domestic premises?
- Places of business and workplaces
- Publicly accessible premises
- Communal spaces in multi-occupational buildings
What are the shared premises?
As a result of the shared nature of the property, multiple responsible parties are likely to exist. To keep people on or around the premises safe, you will need to coordinate your fire safety plans.
Landlords, freeholders, and managing agents are responsible for all common or shared areas.
Fire risk assessments of your premises must be regularly reviewed by you and the person responsible (should you assign one). Keeping people safe and preventing fires will depend on what you do here.
Keeping a fire risk assessment in writing is a must for businesses with five or more employees.
How to implement the assessment?
- Find out what fire hazards exist.
- Find out who are the at-risk individuals.
- Eliminate or reduce risks by evaluating them.
- Develop an emergency plan, train your staff, and document your findings.
- Conduct regular reviews and updates of the fire risk assessment.
More information on these steps can be found on the fire safety risk assessment chart.
Things that you need to conduct a successful assessment:
- Exits and routes for emergencies
- Fire alarms and detection systems
- Equipment for fighting fires
- Safely removing and storing hazardous materials
- Evacuation plan for fire emergencies
- Special needs of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children, or handicapped people
- Making information available to employees and others in the workplace
- Training for employees on fire safety
How to help with the assessment?
Standard fire safety risk assessment guides will help you conduct your assessment of fire safety. Should you not have the resources or expertise to conduct the fire risk assessment on your own, it is best to have someone else help, such as an independent risk assessment consultant.
In case you don’t feel your risk assessment has been carried out properly, you should contact your local fire department for advice. Risk assessments, however, cannot be handled by them.
As an owner, you’re considered responsible for creating different plans that will secure the safety and success of your business. For this matter, it is your lawful obligation to prepare well-researched and well-planned emergency and evacuation plans should any incidents necessitate you to have one.
Yes, plans. Keep in mind that preparing a backup plan is a must since it’s natural for things not to go as expected. A backup plan helps you avoid feeling cornered by the situation. There should be restaurant technology solutions available to help you in this process.
Following are some simple components of an emergency plan:
- All escape routes must have a clear passageway
- Fire detection system suitable for the situation.
- Identification of false alarms.
- There should be clarity on who calls emergency numbers.
- A short and direct escape route that is marked
- A sufficient number of exits and routes to enable everyone to escape
- A door that can be easily opened in an emergency
- Lights for emergencies
- Provide training to all employees on how to use and know escape routes
- An area where staff can gather safely
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) is the main fire safety law that restaurants must follow. Fire safety standards for your premises must be attained under the FSO and all employees are required to be trained adequately.
There are various elements of adequate fire safety training for businesses, but they all include:
- Orientation on fire safety in general.
- Periodic refresher or extra training where the risk level increases as a result of business changes.
- Fire safety training to enable employees to meet their responsibilities.
- Skill-building exercises such as FRAs and fire extinguisher use.
Both the creation of an emergency plan and performing an FRA are legal requirements if you are in charge of commercial premises.
Formal Fire Safety Notice
Local fire authorities visit premises regularly to ensure fire prevention measures and fire risk assessments are appropriate. You should learn the rules and comply with them with the assistance of fire safety officers.
In addition, they are capable of taking action if they believe your fire safety measures are inadequate. An informal safety notice, for instance, might be issued. In the notice, they will explain what will be done to resolve the problem.
Alterations notice – Your premises might be subject to an alterations notice if you pose high safety risks or might pose high safety risks if they are repurposed.
Enforcement notice – When a fire and rescue authority discovers a serious risk that isn’t being managed, they can issue an enforcement notice. The report will specify when improvements are necessary.
Prohibition notice – When you are deemed to be at such a high fire risk that access to your premises needs to be restricted or prohibited, these restrictions are implemented immediately.
Appeals – If you disagree with the decision to issue a fire safety notice, you can request an informal review from your local fire and rescue authority. The appeal must be made within twenty-one days after receiving a notice from your local court.
The Home Secretary can make a ‘decision’ regarding a dispute between yourself and the fire authority in certain circumstances.
Penalties – Failure to follow fire safety regulations could result in a fine or prison sentence.
The maximum amount of minor penalties is £5,000. There can be unlimited fines and a jail sentence of up to two years for major offenses.
Fire risk assessments and plans are not complete without the proper restaurant hardware equipment to implement them. Below are the most basic fire safety equipment and tools that you’re obliged to have in your restaurant.
For early detection and the early warning of potential issues
All areas of the building should be protected by detectors. Kitchen heat detectors are ideal because fumes and steam cannot trigger them. Please make sure it is not placed over a heat source since it detects high temperatures.
Additionally protecting your customers when they eat at your establishment is possible with smoke alarms installed. Additionally, you could link the detectors together so that all of them sound at the same time if a risk is detected.
You may want to install wireless detectors if you can’t build a wired link. A carbon monoxide detector will also be useful if there is a problem with a gas appliance, as well as whistles, gas horns, and rotary fire bells.
If you would like to ensure fire detection and warning are as reliable as possible, we suggest installing a fire alarm system throughout your entire business property.
To be able to extinguish all kinds of fire, you should have different types of fire extinguishers. It is safest to use a chemical extinguisher to extinguish a fire on a deep fat fryer for example.
In addition, you should also include an everyday fire extinguisher like foam or water and a CO2 extinguisher for electrical equipment fires. A bucket of sand is also a great fire preventive measure.
Your restaurant kitchen will also benefit from a fire blanket. The fire is extinguished with these quickly, causing little interruption to the environment. The fire-fighting equipment needs to be accessible and easy to use so that quick action can be taken.
- Poor maintenance of kitchen equipment
- Poor housekeeping practices such as improper disposal of food packages
- Faulty electrical tools and wirings
- Greasy pieces of equipment, especially rags and towels
- Improper storage of liquids utilized inside the kitchen such as oils and alcohol
- Poor fire safety practices such as improper training and outdated safety equipment.
Fire safety in restaurants begins with regular inspections. An annual inspection of fire safety equipment, approved by the fire marshal, must be completed by a professional.
It is illegal for employees and managers to carry out inspections of their own. At this time, it is necessary to inspect and repair sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and emergency exit lights if they need repair.
If maintained regularly, repairs are usually fairly simple and cheap. Leaving the repairs unattended can lead to expensive repairs in the future.
You need to replace your fire safety equipment over time. Some examples are that hood links have to be replaced every year, fire sprinkler gauges must be changed every five years, and fire extinguishers require recharging every six years.
Most restaurant safety systems include fire alarms, which are often deemed the most crucial part. A sounding alarm immediately alerts everyone that danger is present and that they need to evacuate.
Fire alarm systems need to be tested periodically by managers. The control panel can be used to test most systems. The control panel should be put in test mode, which means no alarms will be sounded and the fire department will not be notified.
If the alarm is manually activated, the master key is used to open an alarm lever box and push the alarm button. Keep a record of every triggering device you used and how it performed during the test. It is possible to find the problem quickly using this information if there is an alarm malfunctioning.
For any operation to fight fires, proper fire extinguishers are essential. The kitchens of all restaurants are required to have fire extinguishers of class K. Grease fires are effectively put out by these extinguishers by spraying a chemical out.
There must be a class ABC fire extinguisher mounted in front of the house. Small fires can be extinguished with extinguishers like these.
In addition to being free of debris, extinguishers should also be easily accessible. Ensure that employees don’t hang aprons or obstruct them with carts, trays, or boxes. When a fire begins, timing is everything. When extinguishers and pull stations are positioned conveniently, fires can be extinguished quicker.
Restaurant ventilation hoods pose the greatest fire safety hazard for restaurants. By regularly cleaning the hood, you can help maintain fire safety. It is recommended that you have your ventilation hood inspected every six months.
Properly cleaning ventilation hoods greatly reduces the risk of fire in restaurants. By having a hood, smoke and steam are allowed to escape from the building.
In dirty hood systems, the hood system attached to the hood won’t activate, so the chemical lines will not empty. Grease and grime collect over time in the ventilation system, eventually becoming tinderboxes when ignited.
Grease buildup can make a fire very easy to spread due to the inability to activate the lines.
Also make sure your hood is clear of clutter, such as boxes and shelves. Furthermore, the hood comes with a manual pull station that will activate the lines in case the auto-suppression does not work on its own. It is very important to keep the area free from debris so the employees can use the pull station to extinguish the fire quickly.
Last but not least, fire exit signs should be located in the appropriate place and the building’s lights must work. When a fire starts, exit signs will light up, enabling employees and patrons alike to quickly locate escape routes. Smoke-filled conditions can lead to tragedy if people cannot find the exits quickly if the lighting is inadequate.