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Commercial Kitchen Fire Safety Tips for Grease Fires

Last Updated: September 26, 2023

Fire safety often emphasizes how to prevent fires, but one slip-up or lapse of attention is all it takes for hot cooking oil to catch fire. Do you know what to do if a grease fire ignites in your commercial kitchen? Follow these safety tips for extinguishing grease fire flames quickly before they have a chance to spread throughout the rest of your business.

Tips for Putting Out Commercial Kitchen Grease Fires

The following fire safety tips will help you manage your commercial kitchen and reduce risks in the event of a grease fire.

  • Turn off the heat source: Cooking oil ignites when it gets too hot. Turning off the heat is the first step toward letting the oil cool down, as long as you can do so safely. Many automatic fire suppression systems have built-in appliance cutoff switches to take care of this step for you.
  • Smother the flames with a pot lid: Fire needs oxygen to burn, so by acting fast, you can cover a small blaze with a metal lid or baking sheet to smother it. (Avoid using glass lids or containers, which can shatter in the high heat of a fire.) Keep the lid where it is, even if it looks like the fire has gone out. Reintroducing oxygen to still-smoking oil can cause it to reignite.
  • Douse the fire with baking soda: The chemical compound sodium bicarbonate, commonly called baking soda, is effective for extinguishing this type of fire. It takes a lot of baking soda to smother a grease fire, so pour it on while the flames are still small for the greatest effect. Sodium chloride, or table salt, can also help put out grease fires. However, other white powders—such as flour, sugar, and baking powder—do not, so do not attempt to use them.
  • Spray the fire with a Class K extinguisher: This class of fire extinguisher is designed to douse kitchen fires. National fire codes require commercial kitchens to have at least one Class K extinguisher on hand so staff members can respond as quickly as possible in an emergency. Make sure your staff receives fire extinguisher training so they’re prepared to act at a moment’s notice.
  • Make sure your commercial kitchen fire suppression system is up and running: Due to the heightened risk of fire in commercial kitchens, many facilities are required to have automatic fire suppression. These systems activate in response to high heat from a fire below, dousing the entire cooking surface with wet chemicals designed to turn the grease into a soapy substance that can’t reignite. This is the ultimate choice in commercial kitchen fire safety.
  • Call 911: If you can’t get the fire under control in 30 to 60 seconds, evacuate to safety and call 911. Even if you think the flames are completely out, it doesn’t hurt to call the fire department just in case reignition occurs.

What NOT to Do in the Event of a Grease Fire

Whatever you do, don’t use water to put out a grease fire. Flaming grease only splashes and spreads the flames around if you attempt to douse it with water. Wet towels and water-based fire extinguishers are also out. Also, never attempt to lift a flaming pan and carry it outside. If grease sloshes onto the floor or you drop the pan, you could end up spreading the fire throughout the building on your way out.

Install or Service Your Fire Suppression System

State Systems installs, inspects, maintains, repairs, and replaces commercial kitchen fire suppression systems in businesses throughout the Mid-South.

Don’t leave your building at risk of code violations and fire damage—contact us today at 901-531-6550 to schedule services for the fire suppression system in your Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Alabama business.

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