While all buildings should be equipped with fire extinguishers, not all extinguishers serve the same purpose. As such, businesses should be thoroughly assessed to ensure that the appropriate extinguisher is readily available for any situation that may arise. This is especially important for commercial kitchens and restaurants, which are susceptible to Class K fires and require specific Class K fire extinguishers.
Understanding what a Class K fire is, and what may start one, can help commercial kitchen staff and managers be prepared in case of an emergency.
What Are Class K Fires?
A Class K fire is fueled by flammable cooking liquids, such as cooking oil, and animal or vegetable-based greases. These liquids, when brought up to high temperatures, become volatile and can easily ignite. Due to their high flammability, they also spread rapidly.
Class K fires are most likely to start in commercial kitchens, including restaurants but also office cafeterias, food trucks, bakeries, and other food businesses. These businesses should be equipped with Class K fire extinguishers as part of a complete fire protection plan.
Selecting the Right Fire Extinguisher
Class K fire extinguishers specifically use extinguishing agents that separate and absorb the heat elements of the fire—the fuel, heat, and oxygen necessary to start a fire. Wet mist containing chemicals such as potassium carbonate, potassium acetate, or potassium citrate that mix with the cooking grease create a blanket that cools the flammable liquid to block oxygen, extinguishing the flames and preventing reignition.
Having the correct extinguishing agent available to tamp down the source of the fire is crucial to the proper function of an effective fire extinguisher. No other type of fire extinguisher will be successful at putting out a Class K fire.
Class K fires can only be extinguished with Class K extinguishers, and should never be sprayed with water as this can increase the spread of the cooking liquids.
Is Your Commercial Kitchen Prepared?
Along with having a Class K fire extinguisher readily accessible, commercial kitchens should have their fire suppression systems installed by a professional fire safety technician. This will ensure both proper initial installation and routine maintenance over time.
Employees in commercial kitchens should also be trained to handle a fire emergency, including knowing how to identify which fire extinguishers are most appropriate for any given situation, and understanding how to use fire extinguishers as part of a comprehensive fire emergency plan.