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Fire Extinguisher Safety & Training For Restaurants

By Billy Findley

There's no doubt that restaurant kitchens can be a stressful place. From mom-and-pop shops to five star dining experiences, there is constant pressure to send out great food, quick. During the busiest times the kitchen can become crowded with cooks, servers and other staff. It's not surprising that safety precautions and practices in the kitchen often fall to the wayside. But, these practices are imperative to the operations of any commercial cooking environment. Management can drastically minimize the risk of injuries, equipment malfunctions and other disasters that could cause a business to come to a halt by simply practicing the most common of safety procedures.

Fire is something that unfortunately plagues restaurants each year. When it comes to minimizing risk, the correct installation and use of fire-extinguishing equipment, hoods, ducts, fans, and other cooking equipment in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association's standard for ventilation control and fire protection of commercial cooking operations (NFPA 96) is key.

There have recently been changes to NFPA 96 that will require increased amounts of staff training on fire suppression systems and fire extinguisher operations. Below are tips on how restaurant owners can train staff effectively on the importance of fire safety in commercial cooking, keeping their team and their business safe.

What Are the Changes?

The NFPA 96-2017 ventilation control and fire protection guidelines are put in place to ensure safety. A new update for 2017 involves manual activation of fire suppression systems and the requirements for management to provide instructions and training to employees around those systems.

According to NFPA 96-2017, 10.5.3 and 11.1.4, "Instructions shall be provided to new employees on hiring and ongoing to all employees on the use of portable fire extinguishers and the manual actuation of the fire-extinguishing system." With these new regulations, the responsibility for management to train employees has increased substantially.

Fire Extinguisher Training

One of the best ways to prepare staff is to make sure that everyone is properly trained on all aspects of fire prevention, and a professional fire safety company can help with this. Experts can instruct the staff on how best to prevent fires, how to respond if one breaks out, and train the staff on how to use extinguishers and suppression systems in the establishment.

While having fire extinguishers in various areas around the restaurant can provide a sense of safety, they are only useful if everyone on staff knows how to properly use them. When staff can effectively use extinguishers, they can prevent injuries, reduce property damage and help other staff members and patrons feel safer.

Prevent and Reduce Injury

An unexpected fire is never the best place for someone to try out a fire extinguisher for the first time. When employees become very overwhelmed in such a dangerous situation, it's possible to seriously harm themselves or others if they do not know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

Reduce Damage to the Property

Even the smallest fire can cause big problems if not dealt with immediately. And even if the business is insured, fires can leave big holes in the pocketbook. The United States Small Business Administration found that over 90% of companies fail within two years of being struck by a disaster such as a major fire. While that number is scary, with the right training, staff will know exactly how to react to a small fire to prevent it from becoming catastrophic.

Help Staff and Patrons Feel Safe

Proper training can give staff the confidence they need to use an extinguisher quickly and safely. And, given that most 5-pound ABC fire extinguishers only have about 15-30 seconds of use before empty, that level of confidence is necessary in reducing the fire and reducing risk of injury and damages.

Bringing in a professional fire and security company to conduct staff training may seem overwhelming, but it should be viewed as a necessary procedure for any restaurant that is well worth the investment. This training will not only keep the restaurant aligned with the new NFPA 96 training requirements, it may also just save your business.

Bill Findley Billy Findley is the Vice President of Service Management at Koorsen Fire and Security. Koorsen has been protecting lives & property since 1946. Family-owned and founded in Indianapolis, the company has since vastly expanded its reach, now serving 28 markets. With a backbone of strong family values, each Koorsen location is dedicated to community involvement and philanthropic causes within their respective markets.

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