Protecting your guests after a small fire in the kitchen. What next? Is there Extinguisher training available?

It happens to most people that work in restaurants at least once in their career. A small fire breaks out, and it gets quickly put out by someone that knew what to do. They grabbed a nearby extinguisher to put out the fire before it gets bigger. Once you take a deep breath of relief, cleaning up the kitchen is the next step to get it back to a clean and sanitary state.

First thing is to immediately stop all cooking and foods from leaving the kitchen. You may need to tell your guests the kitchen is closed, at least for a little while. As goodwill for your guests, think about comping their checks.

In the kitchen, get rid of any foods that were being cooked or exposed to the powder that were near the area affected. Change the fryer oil, dishes in the area. Clean up the cause of the fire, usually excessive grease buildup. Assess the entire area, and discard anything that may have been affected. Do not take chances!! The old adage ‘if in doubt, throw it out’ really applies here!!!

If an A, B, or C extinguisher – typically Red – was used, it uses a mix of corrosive powders. This powder eats metal surfaces, so quickly cleaning this is very important. Vacuum or sweep up the powder debris, any powder that is caked on should be scrapped off. For any hard caked on powder, make a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and warm water. After soaking for a few minutes, it should come off. When all residue is removed, Wipe down all surfaces with a 98% water 2% vinegar solution. After a few minutes, wipe the area with a damp clean rag. Finally, Give the affected areas a wipe down with soapy water and rinse. Repeat this final soap and rinse again. You could not clean too much.

If a Class K extinguisher -typically Silver – is used, the mist that comes out helps cool the surfaces, and leaves a foamy residue on surfaces. Use hot soapy water and rinse with a clean towel, then repeat several times to make sure all residue is removed.

Last step is to have that extinguisher to be re-charged!! Determine what caused the fire – usually grease buildup – and adjust your cleaning schedule to eliminate that and other potential fire spots.

The Honolulu Fire Department has great information on Preventing and handling Fires. They have a Fire Extinguisher Training held at their headquarters every 3rd Saturday of the month from 11 to 1. Call 732-7168 for more details. Sister Islands should contact their local Fire Department.

These are all general guidelines to use. Please contact the great people at the HFD http://www.honolulu.gov/hfd/communityrelations.html for more detailed information or your extinguisher supplier.

To set up a Food Safety Audit or Register for an upcoming ServSafe class, please contact Peter Bellisario via email peter@peterbfoodsafety.com or phone (808) 491-7766. As always, Hawaii Restaurant Association members are eligible for a discount on our already reasonable fees.

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