Fire Safety in Restaraunts

There are around 20,000 commercial fires in the UK each year. Restaurants are highly vulnerable to fire. Learn more about fire safety in restaurants and how to prepare for the worst-case scenario of a fire breaking out.

Often, restaurants provide more than just food on a plate. They provide a place for people to come together and socialise or celebrate with loved ones, meet new people, try new cuisines and create lasting memories. It’s all about building the best experience for your customers.

However, this can quickly turn into a disaster. With open flames, cooking equipment and electrical appliances, restaurant kitchens are always at high risk of fire. A fire can devastate your restaurant and cause disruption and loss of revenues, as well as potential injuries. Not only that, but failure to meet Government fire regulations can land you in legal trouble.

Fire safety in restaurants should never be ignored, so it is essential that you have protective measures in place to help you deal with the worst-case scenario. Read on for the most frequently asked questions concerning fire safety in restaurants.

FAQs

What is the law surrounding fire safety in restaurants?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety for premises used for non-domestic purposes in England and Wales. In Scotland, this is covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act, 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?

The Order requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment to identify possible fire precautions, reduce or eliminate the risk from fire as far as possible and create a plan to deal with any emergency.

Who is responsible for ensuring fire safety in restaurants?

Every business must have a designated “Responsible Person”, usually the manager or owner.

What is the job of the “Responsible Person”?

It is the job of the “Responsible Person” to make sure that action is taken to prevent fires as well as injury or death should a fire break out. It is that person’s responsibility to conduct a fire risk assessment of the premises and review this regularly. They must also communicate fire risks to staff and implement appropriate fire safety measures.

Do I need to check my fire safety regulations?

It is important to regularly check and maintain your fire safety precautions to ensure that they meet UK legislation requirements and are adequate. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution and severe fines.

What are the main causes of fire in restaurants?

The main causes of fires in restaurants and takeaways in the UK are kitchen appliances (25%), cookers (23%) and electrical distribution (17%).

What are the common risks of fires in restaurants?

There are a lot of potential causes of fire in restaurants – such as open flames, cooking oils, hot equipment, blocked escape routes, electric appliances and failure to keep ducting clean.

Why are restaurants a high fire risk?

Over half of all fires attended in the UK involve cooking equipment such as chip/fat pan fires, misuse of electrical appliances and careless handling of fire and hot substances. Therefore, restaurants are a high fire risk because their environments include many potential causes of fire.

What can I do to prevent a fire in my restaurant?

To help prevent a fire in your restaurant or prevent a fire from spreading, make sure you close fire doors properly and avoid obstructing escape routes. Ensure that equipment, like fire alarms, is installed to help you detect and warn others of a fire.

Don’t forget the importance of firefighting equipment – having different types of fire extinguisher means that you can cover all types of fire.

Making your restaurant safe

Most fires are preventable, but it only takes a few seconds for a small flare-up to turn into a big blaze. The time spent improving fire safety could save the lives of employees and customers as well as minimise the amount of disruption to your restaurant.

Becoming aware of fire safety and developing effective protective measures means that the chances of fire are reduced. Should a fire occur, these measures also allow you to adopt the right procedures to control or contain a fire efficiently.

The first step to improving fire safety in your restaurant is to appoint a suitable “Responsible Person” to fulfil the Fire Safety Order requirements and carry out a fire risk assessment. They must be trained, have relevant knowledge and experience and feel confident in their ability to implement such measures.

Have you completed a fire risk assessment?

Required by law, a fire risk assessment identifies any hazards that could result in a fire and people who would be at risk. Based on these findings, you can begin to prepare an adequate fire safety plan to ensure that any person of the premises can stay safe in the event of a fire. It is important this fire safety plan is regularly reviewed to keep it up to date.

When conducting a fire risk assessment, consider aspects such as:

  • Emergency routes and exits
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Fire detection and warning signs
  • Firefighting equipment
  • An emergency fire evacuation plan
  • Staff fire safety training

To read more about fire risk assessments, you can check out the Government’s guide here.

Provide staff with fire safety training

Now that you’ve identified where things can go wrong, it’s important to inform and train your staff in fire prevention. Make sure staff know how to spot potential fire hazards as well as the relevant action to take.

Staff must be given appropriate information and instructions regarding fire safety as well as training on how to mitigate the threat of fire. Educating staff on when and how to contact the emergency services in the event of a fire will make sure the most appropriate action can be taken. Teach employees how to use firefighting equipment such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers and ensure that employees are aware of escape routes as well as how to escort any customers out of the premises.

Avoid fire hazards through enforcing daily tasks. These tasks can include disposing of flammable waste such as cardboard boxes and paper, keeping emergency exits clear, storing food away from heat and cooking equipment, and cleaning walls, work surfaces and equipment thoroughly, as grease can reduce air flow.

Kit out your restaurant kitchen

There are numerous ways that you can safeguard your restaurant’s kitchen by installing fire safety equipment to prevent or stop a fire from occurring. This equipment includes:

Fire alarms

UK legislation requires businesses to have an appropriate fire detection system. Placing heat detectors in your restaurant’s kitchen will reduce the chances of unnecessary false alarms being set off by steam but allow true risks to be detected.

Place smoke alarms elsewhere in your restaurant so that all other occupants in the building can be made aware of any danger. Further improve safety by linking fire alarms so that they sound in unison when a threat is detected.

Test fire alarms weekly to ensure they are in working order and have them served every 6 months.

Fire extinguishers

Businesses also require firefighting equipment in the UK. As restaurants are higher risk businesses, they may need more than just portable fire extinguishers; for example, restaurants may also need sprinklers.

Having different types of fire extinguisher in your restaurant will prepare you for all types of fire. For example, a fire blanket can provide a quick way for you to extinguish a pan fire, whereas a CO2 fire extinguisher would be appropriate for use on electrical equipment.

Equipment must be easily accessed and undergo annual maintenance. Remember, never use water to try to put out an electrical, grease or chemical fire.

Fire safety signs

Different types of fire safety signs should be displayed around your restaurant. A fire action notice explains what to do in case of a fire, a fire extinguisher ID sign explains and locates different types of extinguisher, and fire exit signs provide information on how to evacuate in case of a fire. Such signs are mandatory.

Emergency lights

Should your normal lights fail in the event of a fire, emergency lighting would be required. Lighting of this type ensures that escape routes are still visible, highlights firefighting equipment and reduces panic.

Electrical items

When it comes to electrical items in the kitchen, there are numerous protective measures to consider. Firstly, your electrical system must be able to handle your restaurant’s occupancy load; otherwise, it can cause a fire. Look out for signs for an overloaded circuit such as a beaker tipping as well as less obvious indications like dimmed lights or buzzing switches.

Make sure leads are out of the way from cookers and surfaces when being used by staff. All electrical appliances should be stored away carefully, with their leads away from any cookers, heat sources and water at all times.

When it comes to your restaurant cookers, keep away flammable materials such as tea towels, oils and unnecessary foods that can easily catch fire. Keeping your cookers and surfaces clean also minimises the risk of fire, making sure traces of grease and built-up fat are gone. Remember to clean extraction ducts and repair any gaps or breaks in them. Failure to do so creates a fire hazard as flammable grease, dust and fats can build up as well as prevent ventilation systems from working efficiently.

Appliances should regularly undergo maintenance to check for any electrical faults. Be watchful for any hazards such as frayed cords or wiring on equipment that can easily cause a fire.

In a busy restaurant kitchen, it can be difficult to avoid using a lot of sockets. Overloaded socks are a common cause of fires, so it is important to ensure equipment is switched off when it is not being used and overnight or whenever the premises are not occupied.

Safety when cooking

A restaurant kitchen can often be busy and rushed by nature, but it is important to make this environment as safe as possible. Workstations should be adequately spaced apart to avoid the risk of fire and avoid flames spreading quickly. All foods, oils and any other flammable ingredients should be stored at least 3 feet away from cooking areas.

It is also easy to be distracted while cooking, especially if a lot is going on in your restaurant kitchen. Try to maintain organised processes to avoid distractions and train staff to remain calm under pressure. Pans should never be left unattended while on heat, and handles should be turned so that they do not cause an obstruction.

Protect your kitchen staff by investing in uniforms that are fire-retardant. This will slow or stop the spread of fire and reduce its intensity, increasing safety for employees.

Set hearts on fire this Valentine’s Day – not your restaurant

During February, fire services across the nation roll out advice regarding the dangers Valentine’s Day celebrations can bring. With romance in the air, this guarantees a jam-packed restaurant full of couples, which could be hectic.

Candles rank as one of the top fire hazards around Valentine’s Day. While decorating your restaurant with candles can set a romantic mood, it is easy for them to be misplaced. Decorative items such as curtains, tablecloths, napkins and hanging decorations can easily catch fire.

Battery-operated candles provide a safer alternative, but if you’d prefer the real deal, avoid burning candles close together, as this can cause the flame to flare. The dining area should be well-ventilated, but avoid drafts to prevent uneven burning.

Before customers arrive, make sure candles are placed on tables and other stable surfaces securely before you light them. Make sure you place candles in proper holders and that they can’t be easily knocked over by customers or waiting staff.

Be sure to test out smoke alarms throughout all the premises. Candle flames mean that your restaurant is at higher risk of fire; therefore, if one should occur, it is crucial that everyone is alerted.

Valentine’s Day adds extra fire risk, do not ignore the dangers. Check that all candles are put out – the only sparks that should be flying are romantic ones!

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