One of the worst things to happen to any restaurant is a fire. Not surprisingly, cooking and cooking materials are the primary cause of nearly two thirds of restaurant fires. And studies done by the U.S. Fire Administration show that grease and cooking oil are most often the materials first ignited when cooking materials are the culprit.
The best way to reduce the risk of fire is to keep restaurant equipment and technology up to date, especially equipment meant to handle oil and grease products. In some cases, good old-fashioned employee training is the best way to cut down on oversights that can lead to a fire.
Follow these tips to protect your restaurant:
- Make sure both new and experienced employees are aware of (and avoid) risky actions, such as storing oil jugs on the floor near ignition sources. Oil should never be stored near any gas or electric equipment.
- Show employees how to maintain the right level of oil in fryers at all times. Fryers can light up quickly when levels are too low (near empty) or burn too hot, sparking a fire. Similarly, fryers that are too full are more prone to splashing and foaming over. When this happens, the oil is more likely to make contact with open flames in the burners.
- Have employees check equipment regularly, especially fryers, to make sure they are off when not in use, during cleaning, or while draining. If the burner kicks on while an employee is draining oil, vapors can easily flame up and start a fire.
- Train employees to know that an empty fryer should always be thoroughly dried. Deep cleaning usually leaves behind a small amount of water. When fresh oil is added and the fryer is turned on, the water left behind can shoot a stream of hot water, oil, and steam onto walls, floors, nearby equipment, and people. If it hits an open flame or hot surface, it can quickly flare up.
Better yet, eliminate some of the most common mistakes that lead to fires by automating your oil handling with new technology. An automated oil management system eliminates the need to store oil jugs. It allows employees to safely and easily dispose of used oil and fill the fryer with fresh oil with the push of a button. Since oil jugs are never stored, poured, or moved throughout the kitchen, spills and residue that might come into contact with hot surfaces or electrical units on the floor are eliminated. The automated disposal also reduces the need for a grease trap, another common source of overheating and fire.
With an automated oil management system, employees use a fill wand, attached to an external oil tank, to fill the fryer and maintain a consistent oil level. Although an oil management system can’t turn off or dry a fryer after cleaning, it can tell employees when to filter. Oil that isn’t filtered regularly has excess amounts of contaminants that can lead to overheating, burns and even fire. Even with today’s calibrated fryers, too-used oil can overheat, steam, or splash unexpectedly.
Between training and technology, many ways exist to reduce the risk of fire in any restaurant. As we all know, the best-case scenario is not to deal with a blaze when it strikes, but to not have a fire in the first place.
About RTI – Restaurant Technologies, Inc.
Restaurant Technologies, Inc. (RTI) is the leader in smart, safe, sustainable oil and operations management technology for the food service industry. The company’s patented, fully automated oil storage, handling and disposal management system helps increase worker safety, improve restaurant cleanliness and minimize frying oil inconveniences. RTI data management solutions provide restaurant decision-makers with increased visibility into oil usage for better food quality and consistency. Headquartered in Mendota Heights, Minn., RTI serves more than 18,000 customers via 40 oil depots throughout the U.S. Visit RTI online at www.rti-inc.com.
About Independent Restaurateur
Independent Restaurateur is the nation’s largest trade publication exclusively for independent restaurant owners. Published 6 times a year, Independent Restaurateur reaches more independent restaurant owners and key staff than any other B2B publication. For more information visit www.theindependentrestaurateur.com.