It doesn’t take a genius to understand fire poses a risk in any kitchen, yet half of all fires attended by firefighters involve cooking appliances.

For a catering business, reducing the risks to staff, customers and property should be a priority. The good news is there are some simple steps to take which can help protect lives and commercial assets.

Assess the risks

A full fire risk assessment should be made in any premises with a kitchen. A first step for business owners is to identify all fire hazards as well as the people and property which is at risk, only then can effective planning take place to ensure safety measures are sufficient.

Involve the staff

Staff need to be aware of the findings of the fire risk assessment and they should be given regular training on fire alarm operation and response. This will include regular fire drills, training in the usage of fire extinguishers and fire blankets, and an understanding of the safe operation of any isolation switches for gas or electricity supplies. Isolation switches should always be clearly located on the escape route out of the kitchen rather than near the appliance itself. 

A really useful idea is to appoint someone to turn off all cooking appliances when the kitchen closes - but make sure this person has cover when they’re on holiday or away from work.

And ensure everyone has responsibility for keeping fire routes clear and well signposted.

Invest in safety

Some examples of safety equipment which are a wise investment:

  • A good quality fire alarm - if possible have it configured to isolate the power and extraction equipment
  • A range of fire extinguishers – a wet chemical (referred to as class F and featuring yellow markings) should be located within a kitchen. Likewise AFFF, Powder or C02 appliances might be required for other types of fire.
  • Automatic fire suppression systems - the installation of an automatic extinguishing agent within the cooking hood and over fryers can stop a fire before it gets out of control

Maintain your appliances

Ovens and deep fat fryers should be properly installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Thermostatic cut off devices can get dirty and jam after a while so it is worthwhile having these cleaned and calibrated annually to ensure high temperature safety switches work properly.

A thorough cleaning regime is essential to avoid the build-up of combustible greases, especially in extraction hoods and equipment. Filters and hoods should be cleaned at least weekly, while extraction ducts should be professionally cleaned as often as is necessary.

Maintaining good housekeeping regimes and avoiding unnecessary storage of combustible goods in close proximity to cooking apparatus will also make a kitchen a safer environment.

Download a copy of our Risk Management Programme for Fixed Commercial Kitchens.

Find out about NFU Mutual Risk Management Services.