No one expects their restaurant to be the site of a fire. Unfortunately, they are all too common throughout the United States. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there were at least 5,600 reported restaurant fires each year from 2011 to 2013. These killed at least five people, injured another hundred and did at least $116 million in property damage to these establishments. The good news is that there are things businesses can do to protect their businesses fro fires. From having the right fire protection system, to developing a good plan for emergencies, here are some tips to keeping your business safe from fire.
- Develop the right plan. Most businesses know that they should have a good plan for what they will do if there is any kind of emergency. The problem is that most businesses do not take the step to developing such a plan. One of the best things you and your staff can do in the event of any emergency. Even the best fire protection systems will do you little good if you do not have a plan in place. Staying calm is much easier when people know what to do. Train your new employees and provide refresher courses for your veteran people.
- Get the right fire protection system put in. You need to bring in qualified fire alarm contractors to install the right systems for your business. Proper fire suppression systems can be very effective. Systems that do not use chemicals to put out fires in commercial kitchens work about 96% of the time. You need an automatic system but should also have some portable systems that can be used as a backup. These systems need to also cut the power to your cooking equipment as soon as a fire is detected in your kitchen.
- Have your fire protection systems inspected. It is never enough to have the right fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems installed. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that restaurants have their fire protection systems inspected at least every six months. When repairs are needed, you need to tend to them as soon as possible.
- Put your inspections and maintenance on your calendar. It is far too easy to let this slide and not take care of it when you need to. When you make fire prevention and protection a priority, you ensure the safety of your workers and customers.
- Get the right portable fire extinguishers. You need to have these inspected and maintained. You also need to make sure your staff knows how to use them. It is also important to put some of your staff in charge of when these systems should be used. When you designate some people to be the “go to” people for this, you achieve several goals. You know that you have at least one person on duty who can use the equipment. Additionally, you can make sure the equipment is used properly.
- Get the right emergency lighting. If the fire is big enough, you may lose power to your business. When the lights go out, it is incredibly important to have the right emergency lighting in place. Your exits need to be clearly labeled and lit. The path to get to the exits needs to be clear as well. When you are training your staff, you should do some simulations and take the time to make sure your systems are working and that everyone knows how to get people out of your business safely if there is a fire or other problem.
- Get the right smoke detection systems. These are incredibly important. The earlier you can get to the fire, the easier it will be to put it out. The problem that many people do not realize is that fires spread very rapidly. The faster you are alerted to the fire, the more you can do to protect your business, customers and staff. These systems need to be inspected and maintained, too.
Fires are scary. The fire that destroys your business does not even have to originate there. If you share a wall or two with another business, their fire can become your problem. These tips can help