Do I Need Special Fire Extinguishers for My Restaurant?

Various types of combustible materials are found in commercial buildings. The type of material fueling a fire dictates which type of fire extinguisher you need to keep on hand.  

The type of fire extinguisher most people are familiar with is called an ABC fire extinguisher. This is capable of putting out three different kinds of fires: 

  • Class A (burning wood, cloth, paper or plastic)
  • Class B (burning liquids including gasoline)
  • Class C (electrical fires) 

These common ABC fire extinguishers certainly have their place for protection of ordinary hazards throughout a restaurant.  However, the commercial kitchen requires a special fire extinguisher capable of putting out Class K fires, which  are fires involving combustible cooking media (grease and oils).  

Restaurant Kitchen Fire Extinguisher: Class K 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) categorizes fires in commercial kitchens as Class K fires because of the special properties associated with fires involving vegetable oils and other cooking products commonly used there. Ordinary extinguishers are simply not effective on these types of fires.  As a result, virtually all restaurant kitchens are required by law to have at least one Class K fire extinguisher ready.

The Class K wet chemical extinguishing agent is a liquid.  Wet chemical extinguishers spray a fine mist of potassium acetate that forms a soapy foam to suppress vapors and cool the burning oils to reduce the risk of fire re-flash as the flames go out.  

Kitchen Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips 

Familiarize yourself with the following safety tips and regulations to make sure you install and use your Class K fire extinguisher correctly:  

  • Once a fire starts in a deep fat fryer, traditional range hood fire extinguishing methods are not always enough to put out the fire. Human intervention with the appropriate fire extinguisher may be necessary to smother the flames.
  • Never use a Class A air-pressurized water or carbon dioxide extinguisher to put out a fire in a deep fat fryer. The results could be explosive.
  • In case a fire starts under the hood in your restaurant kitchen, only use the Class K fire extinguisher once the built-in hood fire suppression system has been activated. To help your staff remember this detail in the heat of the moment, place a placard on the wall near the Class K fire extinguisher with this reminder.
  • Many Class K extinguishers have extinguishing agents that conduct electricity. This means you should only use the fire extinguisher after electrical power to the kitchen appliance in question has been turned off.
  • Travel distance between kitchen appliances and the Class K fire extinguisher should not exceed 30 feet. 

Class K Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Testing & Maintenance 

Installing a Class K extinguisher in your restaurant is only the first step. To remain in compliance with NFPA rules and regulations, you must also arrange for annual service. Far too often, restaurant owners research which extinguisher they need, install it and forget all about it. However, if a fire breaks out and the fire extinguisher has  not been properly maintained, you could have a serious fire emergency on your hands.  

If you are located in the Greater Capital Region, contact Albany Fire Extinguisher today to schedule a visit. We can help ensure you choose the correct fire extinguisher for your establishment and keep it maintained for years to come. 

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