Responding to kitchen fires in commercial establishments

The appearance of the CEO or other firefighters in uniform does not imply or constitute endorsement by the department.

Just because there is a fire in the kitchen, it doesn’t mean you have to call the fire department. The first step should be to assess the problem, then take the necessary steps.

If the fire is confined to the oven, it can probably be be safely extinguished by closing the oven door. Just put on oven mitts and quickly close the door, then turn off the oven. Fires can’t survive without oxygen, and closing the door will choke that supply off.

NOTE: Do not — repeat, do not — open the door “just for a peek” to check the status of the fire. Leave the door closed. Expect smoke for a few minutes, even after the fire is out. Open a window if one is available. If it doesn’t go out, move to the fire extinguisher phase.

If the fire on the range you probably have a grease fire on your hands. Virtually all cooktop fires are grease fires, and you should not use plain water on it.

Step 1: Put (or keep) your oven mitts on.
Step 2: Carefully turn off the burners.
Step 3: Locate the lid to the pot/pan containing the fire.
Step 4: Hold the lid at an angle like a shield, quickly slide it onto the pot. Be careful about flame of heat from the pot. Again, you’ve deprived the fire of oxygen, and it should go out. Do not move the pan until it cools.
Step 5: If you can’t find the lid, douse the grease fire with baking soda.
Step 6: If the baking soda is not effective, you will need a fire extinguisher. Use one with a Class BC or ABC rating (dry chemical) which can be used for grease fires. (Look for the green triangle and the appropriate pictograph. ) Carbon dioxide (CO2) unit, both of which are suitable for grease fires.

Note that dry-chemical units leave a powdery residue that is corrosive enough to ruin the stove, and thus the CO2 is the better choice. If you use a chemical extinguisher, once the fire is out, any powder should be cleaned up immediately using soap, water and rubber gloves.

If fire that moves beyond the oven or stove to surrounding walls, cabinets or fixtures requires a call to the fire department — even if you are able to put it out with an extinguisher. Wiring could be damaged and should be inspected by a professional.

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