Best Practices for Keeping Workplace Kitchens Safe from Fire Hazards

April 15 2021

Best Practices for Keeping Workplace Kitchens Safe from Fire Hazards

Maintaining facility safety is multifaceted in nature. Building owners need a protection plan that encompasses not only anti-intrusion, but fire prevention as well. Finite resources combined with limited bandwidth often results in one fire and life safety area to be overlooked: the workplace kitchen.

Office kitchens have become increasingly commonplace and unfortunately increasingly neglected when it comes to workplace fire and life safety. However, given the fire hazards present in any workplace kitchen, it can't be ignored.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the main cause of nonresidential building fires is cooking equipment at roughly 30%. Due to the high frequency of fires originating in office kitchens, it is imperative that employees understand and actively adhere to office kitchen safety best practices.

How to Prevent Office Kitchen Fires

To mitigate the risk of office kitchen fires, building owners and managers need to establish a company-wide fire and life safety culture. Without the proper safety protocols, the workplace kitchen can lead to office fires that destroy important business documents, halt operations, damage property, and drastically impact profitability for years to come, not to mention put lives in danger.

While completely eradicating the risk of office kitchen fires is unlikely, the building owners and managers that proactively partner with a fire and life safety service provider to develop and implement an office kitchen protection strategy will be better positioned to act if and when these emergencies occur. Here are the top best practices businesses should follow to mitigate fire hazards in the workplace kitchen.

1. Install and Maintain Proper Fire Protection Devices

The most effective strategy for businesses seeking to bolster their defenses against workplace kitchen fire hazards is to partner with licensed technicians to install and maintain proper fire protection devices such as kitchen fire suppression systems, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, and fire extinguishers.

The right fire and life safety service provider will work to create a tailored fire protection system that migrates outdated or obsolete systems to newer systems often recommended by the local AHJ. An experienced fire and life safety service provider will provide preventative maintenance and inspections to ensure all fire protection devices are fully functional when offices need them most.

2. Implement Employee Fire Extinguisher Training

The best way to be prepared for fire accidents is to acknowledge and accept their presence. Fire incidents in the workplace kitchen can and will occur simply because even the most conscientious employees can create a fire unintentionally. Until automation takes over entirely, it's safe to say employee fire extinguisher training will be a worthwhile investment for business owners and managers.

In addition to implementing a comprehensive employee fire extinguisher training program, building owners and managers should consult with their fire and life safety service provider to ensure they have the necessary amount of fire extinguishers and the right type of fire extinguishers that are strategically placed, fully-charged, and in working order.

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3. Never Leave Cooking Food Unattended

While it might seem intuitive to some employees, it is imperative to remember that fire safety isn’t always at the forefront of people's minds and it most certainly is not an ingrained priority. Therefore, it is crucial that employees are reminded to always keep a watchful eye on their food and their surroundings while cooking.

Some of the most common culprits of workplace kitchen fires are frozen dinners and popcorn as these items are prone to burn. Workplace signs combined with an established fire and life safety culture will help remind employees to not walk away from microwaves, stoves, or other cooking equipment while preparing food.

4. Regularly Check Appliances and Power Cords for Damage

Proactively checking kitchen appliances for recalls is key to preventing workplace kitchen fires. This includes actively registering equipment once they are purchased and keeping an organized list of the registrations. An accessible list will provide quick information regarding product safety recalls, ensuring that your kitchen appliances aren't at an increased risk for fire hazards.

Organizations also need to consistently monitor the condition of power cords. Exposed power cords can short-circuit and cause uncontained workplace kitchen fires. To combat this issue, employees should regularly check for damaged, worn out, or frayed power cords, and preemptively replace them. In addition to monitoring power cords, organizations can follow these tips to further reduce the looming threat of power cords and maximize kitchen safety:

  • Limit use of extension cords.
  • Plug kitchen appliances directly into outlets to reduce potential points of failure.
  • Encourage employees to unplug small appliances when not actively using them.
  • Consistently check all electrical plugs and wiring in the kitchen to ensure functionality.
  • Teach personnel how to identify damaged power cords and educate them on the maintenance reporting procedure.

5. Consistently Clean Appliances

One of the best practices for keeping workplace kitchens safe from fire hazards is simply consistent kitchen hygiene. This includes proactively cleaning all kitchen appliances. Encouraging employees to not only clean after themselves, but also take responsibility for keeping the community office kitchen clean and shiny will help reduce the frequency of fire-related emergencies. Here are the common catalysts of office kitchen fires building owners, mangers, and employees need to be familiar with:

  • Food spills - breadcrumbs, baked goods, popcorn kernels etc.
  • Grease stains
  • Leftover oil

Protecting Your Office Kitchen From Fire Hazards

The key to workplace kitchen safety is habitual consistency. The businesses that prioritize, engrain, and implement fire and life safety best practices into their office culture will be better prepared to combat these emergencies if and when they occur.

Businesses should partner with a fire and life safety service provider to develop an office kitchen protection strategy to ensure the safety of the building and, most importantly, the occupants inside.

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