Qualilty Improvement for Senior Living Communities
GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care
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Commercial Kitchen Fire Safety

The March 2012 edition of the Safety Spotlight for Independent Living Facilities newsletter discussed how facilities can reduce the chances of a fire or injury from cooking by elderly tenants. This issue focuses on senior living communities that have commercial kitchens and the specific issues associated with providing adequate fire safety.

Commercial Kitchen

Commercial cooking operations are defined as kitchens that have cooking equipment that produce grease and grease-laden vapors. This includes flat grills, char broilers and deep fat fryers. The typical residential range (electric or gas) would not be considered a grease producing appliance. The following is information regarding two of the most common types of equipment that produce grease and/or grease laden vapors.

  • Deep Fat Fryers - Deep fat fryers are a major cause of kitchen fires. Oil can splash and easily come into contact with an open flame from an adjacent piece of cooking equipment, such as a gas-fired range top.

  • Flat Grills/Griddles - Flat grills and griddles are typically used for frying hamburgers and bacon. When used for this type of cooking, grease and grease laden vapors are produced.

Controlling the Fire Hazard

To adequately control the fire hazard associated with these types of cooking operations, the following three fire protection components must be in place:

  • Hood and Ventilation System - A kitchen hood and ventilation system will include an exhaust hood or canopy, ductwork, fan system and a means of providing adequate make-up air. This system will effectively remove the heat, grease and grease-laden vapors from the cooking area.

  • Automatic Extinguishing System - All cooking equipment that produces grease or grease-laden vapors should be equipped with an approved automatic extinguishing system. The automatic extinguishing system should meet the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 300 standard. If a fire were to occur, the system would automatically activate to extinguish the fire.

  • Fire Extinguisher - Every commercial kitchen must contain a fire extinguisher installed in a visible and easily accessible location. K-rated extinguishers are recommended for commercial kitchens. The fire extinguisher should be located no more than 30 feet from the cooking area.

Inspection and Servicing

Components, such as the hood and ventilation system and the automatic extinguishing system, should be inspected and serviced every six months by a qualified contractor. Likewise, fire extinguishers should be inspected and serviced at a minimum of once per year, or when specifically indicated by the manufacturer's recommendations.

Floor and Wall Coverings

Finally, floor and wall coverings in the kitchen should be of a material, such as ceramic tile (floors) or stainless steel (walls) that will prevent grease saturation and be easy to clean. It is important that cleaning be undertaken on a regular basis to prevent the accumulation of grease in the kitchen.

For more detailed information on how to keep your kitchen safe, review the Commercial Kitchen Fire Safety fact sheet on the GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care website.


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