Commercial kitchen fire safety should always be a high priority when designing your commercial kitchen – fire hazards in a commercial kitchen are very real and it is your job to make sure every precaution is taken to prevent any fire outbreaks and contain them if/when they do break out. Fire safety should be taken very seriously.

The number of fire extinguishers you have in your kitchen depends on the size and layout of your space, the NFPA code states that there should be no more than 75 feet between fire extinguishers. It is recommended that you have fire blankets available for small pan fires and wet chemical fire extinguishers designed specifically to deal with cooking oil and fat fires, as well as a CO2 extinguisher for electrical fires. It is imperative that you have these serviced annually by a licensed engineer.

Your extinguishers should be:

  • Easily accessible
  • Preferably placed near exit routes in high-traffic areas
  • 100mm from the floor
  • Kept within 10m from cooking oil and fat blazes 
  • Kept 40m from appliances at risk of electrical fires

As mentioned above fire blankets are only to be used for small cooking and clothing fires – they must be square or rectangular in size be no bigger than 1.8m and no smaller than 0.9m and weigh no more than 10kg. The fire blanket should be folded so that it can be opened in under 4 seconds and be kept in an obvious and accessible place and must be inspected annually. 

Common causes of commercial kitchen fires.

Dirty extraction systemsCleaning all the equipment in your kitchen is essential – if your extraction system is dirty and not cleaned regularly there is a risk of grease build-up which can lead to ignition in certain circumstances. 

Electrical fires – Your electrical systems in your premises should be subjected to a five-yearly electrical installation condition report and individual items should have a portable appliance test (PAT) completed prior to use. 

Cooking techniques – All staff should receive appropriate training to avoid overheating of oils used in cooking.

Insufficient fire separation – Separation should exist between units and premises.  In the event of a fire, poor fire separation can lead to secondary fires around the premises.

Fire Risk Assessments (FRA)

A Fire Risk Assessment is a legal duty that should be carried out by an employer or owner/occupier of commercial premises – the assessment is completed to identify fire hazards and ensure the business has effective fire protection in place. If there are five or more people on the premises a written record must be completed. 

Understanding the risks and taking precautions to reduce or eliminate them increases the likelihood your business would recover from a fire.

Risk Assessments are defined by five key steps:

  • Identify the fire hazards.
  • Identify the people at risk.
  • Evaluate, remove or reduce.
  • Record the assessment, prepare an emergency plan and provide necessary training.
  • Review and update the FRA frequently, particularly with any significant changes to the business.

The individual carrying out the Fire Risk Assessment must have suitable training to make the right judgements about risks and how to reduce them. To ensure regulatory compliance is adhered to for larger, more complex businesses, it is recommended that a professional fire risk assessor carries out the FRA

For smaller businesses, its possible for the business owner to carry out the risk assessment. FRA requirements can be found on the GOV.UK website.

It is always important to check with the local Fire and Rescue Service for their recommendations on your FRA.

As well as undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment you have a lawful obligation to have an emergency plan in place that is clearly outlined and available to your employees. A simple emergency plan should include:

  • Suitable fire detection systems
  • A process for identifying false alarms
  • A designated caller to 999
  • All escape routes must be clearly marked, unobstructed and planned out 
  • Emergency doors that open easily and emergency lighting if required.
  • Employee training so they know escape routes and a safe meeting point.
  • Consideration for people who cant escape quickly in a fire like wheelchair users.
  • Regular testing of your plan

Find guidance for people with disabilities here: Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Means of Escape for Disabled People.

Commercial kitchen fire safety must be considered from the start of your project, at Ceba we will work through every aspect of the design with you to ensure your project meets all regulatory requirements and we will offer ideas and suggestions for improvements if these are required.