Inadequate fire-protection standards in commercial kitchens is a recipe for disaster, with insurers running the rule over sites before agreeing to provide cover.

Commercial kitchens represent one of the greatest fire risks in the business environment – and insurers know it.

Whether it is the local RSL, or one of the many other clubs that dot communities around Australia, these high-traffic, high-risk areas require sophisticated fire-mitigation strategies and equipment to protect diners, employees and property.

In an effort to safeguard their own interests and those of their clients, insurers typically take a hard-headed stance before agreeing to cover enterprises for potential fire and business-interruption losses. For example, they pay particular attention to factors such as the age of a building in which a commercial kitchen is located, the type of cooking equipment that is in use and, perhaps most importantly, the fire-prevention equipment that is on site.

Focus on quality equipment and systems

Deep-fat fryers, cooking ranges and cooking grills are common causes of restaurant fires, with grease build-up in hoods representing a particular threat that can ignite blazes which can quickly rip through kitchens and nearby facilities.

There are solutions, however. Smart fire-suppression systems that incorporate the latest foam concentrates and gaseous suppression technology can literally starve a fire of air, while discharge nozzles and heat detectors are other important safety elements are the best fire-prevention systems in club kitchens.

Two standout fire-prevention systems should be on the radar for club operators – the Amerex KP-PRM and the Ansul R-102 restaurant models, which are used widely around the world. The former uses linear pneumatic detection technology and a fast-reaction, low-pH, wet chemical suppression agent that targets cooking fat and grease fires. The latter has a sophisticated suppression agent that has three vital characteristics: fast flame knockdown; vapour securement; and the ability to cool hot surfaces and cooking oils. Both systems meet all the relevant Australian and international standards, which is a key factor for insurers when they make fire-cover assessments.

Stay up to date with maintenance

It is one thing to have great fire-suppression systems in clubs and restaurants, but that counts for little if maintenance is ignored after the initial installation.

In determining the appropriate solution for their site, club owners should sound out potential providers on their annual maintenance recommendations. Too often, suppliers focus only on the sale and subsequently neglect after-sales service. It is an oversight that can have potentially catastrophic consequences for businesses.

On top of the aforementioned fire-prevention systems, experienced fire-suppression experts can also advise club owners on other simpler, but still important, measures that can minimise fire dangers for the best fire-prevention systems in club kitchens. Having approved fire blankets in the cooking area, for instance, is a crucial element of safety, as is ensuring that all exhaust duct filters are cleaned regularly during the year. Regular checks on fire extinguishment and control devices by professionals should be a minimum standard.

Defer to experience in choosing suppliers

Club owners and site managers bear a heavy responsibility for protecting their people and property from fires. The positive news is that there are experienced fire-suppression experts in the market who can advise cost-effective solutions that provide peace of mind and the prospect of minimal business disruptions.

With careful planning and the right fire-suppression equipment, clubs can play it safe with the best fire-prevention systems – and keep their insurers on side at the same time.

Delta Fire Australasia specialises in the design, installation and servicing of commercial kitchen fire-suppression systems that safeguard many of the country’s premier restaurant kitchens.

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