Fire damage is one of the most expensive claims that restaurant owners file with their insurance company. In fact, fires are one of the top five exposures faced by restaurant owners. How would your business be able to handle a claim that comes with an average loss of $35,000?

The obvious solution is to carry restaurant insurance, but owners need to hold their fire prevention plan to the flames and focus on reducing the potential impact of such a devastating event.

Fire Prevention Tips for Restaurants

1. Follow equipment maintenance procedures — Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and usage instructions for all of your equipment. Test regularly and check for broken parts, loose wires, or other problems. Have a professional technician visit your restaurant to provide routine maintenance.

2. Have safety equipment — You should have working smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers that are charged and checked. Do you have a deep fryer or open grilling system? Keeping a K-rated fire extinguisher in the kitchen is not just a business licence requirement, it also may be a requirement to qualify for restaurant insurance. For all other areas, check with your local fire marshal or health department to ensure you have the right fire extinguishers.

In addition, commercial kitchens and restaurants with deep fat fryers or open grilling systems should have a fire suppression system. Insurance Canopy requires those restaurants to have an automatic extinguishing system over cooking equipment as part of their fire suppression system with an annual service contract in place before we offer coverage.

Types of fire suppression systems:

  • Automatic fire suppression system: Extinguishes and controls fire without human intervention. Examples include fire sprinkler systems, gaseous fire suppression, and condensed aerosol.
  • Wet chemical system: Extinguishes fires caused by cooking oils through a process called saponification.
  • ANSUL® R-102 Restaurant Fire Suppression System: Protects areas associated with ventilating equipment including hoods, ducts, plenums, and filters.

3. Clean — Most kitchen fires begin when flammable cooking materials or byproducts such as fat, oil, or grease ignite. Grease buildup is inevitable in any restaurant. So, take the following precautionary measures to protect your business:

  • Remove grease buildup: Clean walls, ranges, work surfaces, grills, fryers, hoods, and other areas that could be exposed to grease.
    Hire a professional who is trained in grease buildup removal. Restaurant insurance guidelines require that you have a semi-annual cleaning contract in place by a qualified servicing contractor. And, all filters should be cleaned as needed.
  • Take out your trash: Flammable kitchen debris near cooking equipment can be disastrous. Regularly empty your trash receptacles and place garbage in a dumpster away from the building.
  • Clean the exhaust system: Hoods, ducts, and fans have nooks and crannies that seclude grease and buildup. Plus, if these systems are plugged, they don't operate as efficiently and that could lead to a fire.

4. Train Your Staff — Your kitchen managers and employees should be fully trained to assess fire risks and to address any hazards. Your staff should learn about the following:

  1. FOG safety (Fat, Oil, and Grease): Teach employees how to properly clean and dispose of cooking products, especially these highly flammable materials.
  2. Fire extinguisher usage: To comply with OSHA requirements, train your employees how to use a fire extinguisher. The National Fire Protection Association has an online video that satisfies OSHA training requirements, here.
  3. Hold fire drills: Make sure your staff knows where the evacuation routes are and train them on how to direct patrons to safety.

Protect Your Restaurant With Insurance

Despite your best efforts, unforeseen events could still cause a restaurant fire. Regardless of safety precautions, you need to have comprehensive restaurant insurance coverage.

Our agents can help you assess your risks and restaurant insurance needs. To purchase restaurant insurance, contact us at 844.520.6993.

Source: Insurance Journal

*All insurance policies have conditions, limitations and exclusions. Please refer to the policy for exact coverages.