By Billy Findley, VP of service management at Koorsen Fire and Security
Restaurants are constantly working to keep up with the latest changes in fire code, and with new changes being recently adopted from the National Fire Protection Association, staying up to fire code is now more important than ever. The standard for ventilation control and fire protection of commercial cooking operations (NFPA 96) now requires increased amounts of staff training on fire suppression systems and fire extinguisher operations. To help restaurant teams make sure their commercial cooking zones are brought up to speed, we’ve compiled the below tips, which should help owners understand the new regulations.
Testing of fire suppression systems
Fires in the kitchen can happen in a split second, and spread even faster, especially when you’re dealing with high-temperature vegetable oil fires. A suppression system should be tested regularly, and employees need to know how to operate the system at all times. The training shouldn’t be complicated, but it does need to be focused specifically on the suppression system and needs to recur on a monthly basis so that every employee is always ready should a fire break out.
Fire extinguisher training
This may seem simple, but it’s one of the most vital exercises employees can have to help learn how to suppress a fire. According to OSHA, each employee should go through an extensive training course in how to operate the fire extinguisher.
Training in fat,oiland grease
It’s common for fat, oil and grease to build up in restaurant kitchens quickly. Training on how to handle these substances is essential. This type of fire suppression needs a separate training session to teach all staff the proper ways to clean and dispose of FOG. This task can be tedious, but also life-saving. Some areas of the kitchen are very difficult to clean, and it’s recommended that you use a professional fire safety service regularly to keep your kitchen as clean from FOG as possible.
You may feel like you’re heading back to middle school, but fire drills in the workplace are as important as ever. All staff members should know routes to get out of the establishment in case of a fire or emergency. They should also be able to escort any guests out with ease. Maps of the evacuation routes should be displayed throughout the restaurants in key places such as near doorways and in bathrooms. Routine fire drills should be conducted with all employees. These will help to pinpoint any confusion that might exist in evacuation routes. Take these drills seriously and continue working on them until all employees are comfortable with their plan of evacuation.
Maintain clean pathways
Make it a common practice to keep evacuation routes clear at ALL times. Make sure all exits and routes are free of boxes, chairs, tables and anything else that could be a hindrance during an evacuation. This is a serious code violation because it impacts not just staff but all guests inside the restaurant during the event of an emergency.
Valve knowledge safety
Knowledge is key when it comes to valves within the establishment. Employees should know whether the gas manual shuts off automatically or manually in the event of a fire. If manually, all employees need to be trained on how to shut the valve off during a fire. Every employee needs to know this, not just the kitchen staff because you never know who will be in the kitchen when a fire erupts.
Businesses hope that they never experience a fire, but need to be prepared for the worst. The best thing to do is be prepared at all times, and one of the best ways to do this is to make sure all employees have regular fire safety training courses. These safety protocols can not only save your business lots of money in damages but also employee lives.