6 Tips to Ensure a Safe and Successful Restaurant Reopening
- Ensure accessible and inspected fire extinguishers
- Clear emergency exits
- Test fire alarms
- Professionally clean air ducts
- Inspect commercial kitchen fire suppression systems
- Provide fire and life safety training for employees
The COVID-19 pandemic touched every part of the world in drastic ways. As vaccination rates increase and the spread of the disease slows, enthusiastic patrons are increasingly taking advantage of loosened restrictions to visit their favorite eateries. While many restaurants have been operating in a limited capacity or entirely shuttered during the pandemic, most are slowly returning, preparing for a busy summer.
While rust and cobwebs may not have overtaken your restaurant during the pandemic, it's still important to go through proper steps to ensure fire and life safety after a period of lower volume. Here are the fire and life safety considerations your restaurant or commercial kitchen needs to consider to ensure a frictionless and safe reopening.
1. Ensure Accessible and Inspected Fire Extinguishers
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that fire extinguishers receive annual maintenance and monthly inspections. With reduced use of your facility, you'll want to make sure all fire extinguishers have been inspected and maintained by a qualified professional.
Business owners need to ensure that all fire extinguishers are easily accessible in required areas and that employees know how to effectively use them. Facility owners need to check fire extinguishers routinely to identify problems before they result in costly damage.
2. Clear Emergency Exits
Emergency exits are a vital tool for enabling a safe environment in a crowded setting like a restaurant or commercial kitchen. Restaurant owners need to ensure emergency exits remain unobstructed even during periods of disuse and that every part of the building has quick and easy access to emergency exits.
3. Test Fire Alarms
Proactively testing fire alarms ensures reliability in case of an emergency. If the fire alarm system hasn't been maintained throughout the past year, consider a professional fire alarm inspection. From routine fire alarm inspections to large-scale upgrades, partnering with a full-service fire alarm specialists provides commercial kitchens the confidence to reopen.
4. Professionally Clean Air Ducts
Having a professionally cleaned and properly maintained HVAC system is critical for a successful restaurant reopening. Proactively investing in a professional HVAC cleaning service ensures clean breathing air for employees and restaurant patrons. The restaurants that transparently articulate their efforts to improve indoor air quality will provide their patrons the needed confidence to return to public eateries.
With all the complexities of airflow management in a commercial kitchen, air ducts need to be regularly cleaned in order to increase airflow and promote healthy working and dining conditions.
5. Inspect Commercial Kitchen Fire Suppression Systems
A properly inspected and maintained fire suppression system in commercial kitchens mitigates fire damage and greatly reduces the potential for patron harm. For reliable protection, a commercial kitchen fire suppression system should be professionally inspected every six months.
Since fire suppression systems are usually required for commercial kitchens, regularly inspected systems prevent restaurants from incurring costly fines by keeping them NFPA and AHJ-compliant.
6. Provide Fire and Life Safety Training for Employees
Restaurant employees need to be aware of the safety tools available to them and how to properly use them in case of a fire emergency. Commercial kitchens should have a hard copy of their fire suppression system owner’s manual on-site and a digital copy readily accessible. Employees need to know the ins and outs of the restaurant's fire and life safety infrastructure so they can effectively protect themselves and their patrons if a fire and life safety emergency occurs.
While manufacturers offer training for employees on some fire and life safety systems, a professional fire and life safety company can provide training on all systems.
Download The Restaurant Owner’s Complete Fire Protection Guide to learn more about fire prevention best practices for restaurants. Learn More →
Reopening Your Commercial Kitchen and Restaurant With Confidence
Commercial kitchens have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. The restaurant industry stands at the tragic intersection of distancing requirements, regulatory lockdown orders, and staff shortages. As the resilient industry repairs and slowly bounces back from the pandemic, the restaurants that proactively implement fire and life safety considerations will be better positioned to reopen and capitalize on the projected summer spending boom.
While we're all anxious to get back to the hustle and bustle of daily life, don't compromise the vital safety of the people and tools that make your restaurant work. Consult with an experienced fire and safety professional to make sure your restaurant is completely prepared for reopening and can move toward profitability while still protecting what's important.