SAFETY is an integral part of the design of a building, and this includes food safety as well as employee and guest safety.
In kitchen design, everything must be considered with an eye foreasy and effective cleaning.
Refrigeration must be directly accessible to the prep areas where it will be required to keep foods correctly chilled.
Counters and other food display equipment must balance the challenges of effective merchandising versus safe holding temperatures.
Making it all work together can be complex and difficult—and expensive, especially if it’s not done correctly.
Improving safety in and around your food-service business also can positively impact your staff’s morale and productivity, decrease your insurance costs and legal liability, and even attract more customers.
So in this category, the wide-ranging topics include:
- FIRE SAFETY
- WASTE MANAGEMENT
- EMPLOYEES COMFORT & SAFETY
- FLOORING & CARPETING
- FOOD SAFETY
Safety is a state of mind. It requires making a conscious decision to conduct yourself, & your business, to do everything possible to prevent accidents and injuries.
It means identifying any potential HAZARDS (HACCP/ we will get to that later), in your work processes or in the facility itself, developing safety measures to minimize these hazards, and training employees with an effective, ongoing safety program.
About one-third of all restaurant fires originate in the kitchen, and they are generally flash fires on cooking equipment.
Prevention of these incidents requires two important steps:
- CONTROL OF IGNITABLE SOURCES
- CONTROL OF COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS.
The most common source of the kitchen fire is grease, a natural by-product of many cooking processes. When fats get heated, they change from solid to liquid.
They are then drained off in the form of oil, or they become atomized particles in the air, propelled upward by the thermal currents of the cooking process.
Low-temperature cooking creates more liquid grease; high-temperature cooking creates more grease-laden vapor. The vapor is sucked into the exhaust hood where, as it cools, it settles on surfaces and becomes a fire hazard inside the exhaust system.
If the kitchen staff has had the proper training and the right safety equipment is available, the range-top fire can be extinguished within moments.
If not, it can quickly expand into the ductwork, reaching up too 1093 degrees celsius, (2000 degrees Fahrenheit) as it comes into contact with highly flammable grease and lint particles. Therefore, an automatic fire protection system is a necessity.
In fact, most state insurance departments require a fire safety inspection from an exhaust hood expert before insurance companies can issue a commercial fire insurance policy.
As we’ve mentioned, the site must usually be reinspected every six months to keep the insurance in force.
Even if the six-month rule doesn’t apply in your area, it is a good idea to have your system professionally cleaned and checked twice a year anyway.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the authority on this topic and sets the stringent regulations for commercial kitchen installations. Most canopy manufacturers offer fire protection systems as part of their package, including installation, but you can also hire an independent installer.
An automatic fire protection system, such as the one shown in Illustration 8-1, consists of spray nozzles located above every piece of external (not ovens) cooking equipment on the hot line. There are very specific rules about the numbers of nozzles and their locations:
- Range tops require one nozzle for every 48 linear inches.
- Griddles require one nozzle for every six feet of linear space.
- Open broilers (gas, electric, or charcoal) require one nozzle for every 48 inches of broiler surface.
- Tilting frying pans require one nozzle for a surface 48 inches in width.
- Fryers require one nozzle apiece or one nozzle for every 20 inches of fryer surface.
Nozzles are placed between 24 and 42 inches above the top of the equipment. (This varies depending on the type of appliance.) The nozzles activate automatically to shoot water or a liquid fire retardant at the cooking surface when the temperature reaches 280 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat detector may be located in the ductwork or in the hood.
Inside the ductwork, there is also an internal fire protection system—a fuse link or a separate thermostat is wired to automatically close a fire damper at the ends of each section of ductwork. The exhaust fan shuts off, and a spray of water or liquid fire retardant is released into the interior. Other, similar systems can be operated by hand instead of automatically. Some keep the exhaust fan running, to help remove smoke during a fire.
In addition to the exhaust system’s fire protection, several handheld fire extinguishers should be mounted on the kitchen walls, and employees should know how to use them.
The automated system, when it is triggered, is so thorough that you must close the kitchen and begin a major cleanup, so often a handheld extinguisher is sufficient for minor flare-ups, and a lot less messy.
Today, most insurance coverage requires Class K–type fire extinguishers in commercial kitchens.
The NFPA classifies fires by the type of material that is burning; “K” (for “kitchen”) was added to the list in 1998. So these fire-extinguishers work on the principal of saponification, this term apply on alkaline mixture (like: potassium acetate, potassium carbonate, or potassium citrate) to burning/cooking fat or oil.
The combination creates a soapy foam that quenches the fire.
Finally, as with any other public building, ceiling-mounted sprinkler systems are also worth investigating, because their installation may significantly reduce your insurance costs.
There is a common misperception that, if it detects even one wayward flame, the entire sprinkler system will douse the whole building, but this is generally not the case. In fact, most restaurant sprinkler systems have heads that activate only when a fire is detected directly beneath them.
Ask your local fire department for suggestions and fire safety training tips for employees. And by all means, keep up with those fire inspections.
In recent years, insurance companies have challenged kitchen fire claims, and courts find the restaurateur is at fault—and cannot collect the insurance money for fire damage—when routine maintenance and cleaning has not been performed.