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It’s National Fire Prevention Week — Learn about Preventing Kitchen Fires!

October 7, 2013

October 6–12 is National Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme is Preventing Kitchen Fires. While smoking remains the leading cause of residential home fire deaths, cooking is the leading cause for injuries and fires. According to the NFPA, two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen![1] Prevention is key and knowing how to put out different types of fires can go a long way.

Residential Kitchens

A few tips:

residential kitchen fire safety

Residential Fire Extinguisher

  • Don’t leave stoves or ovens unattended while in use.
  • Never throw hot grease in the garbage can. When draining a frying pan of bacon grease, it’s easy to want to dump it into the garbage, but it’s safer to let it cool and pour it into an empty can.
  • Be careful wearing loose-fitting shirts or aprons.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby and accessible! I was constantly amazed, when inspecting commercial kitchens, how often extinguishers were kept behind heavy items or were difficult to reach.
  • Make certain that you and your family know how to use the extinguisher.
  • Have an escape plan; if a fire gets too large, leave your home and call 911.

Many different types of fires can occur in kitchens. Here are a few hints on how to put out different types of fires:

  • If something in the microwave or oven catches fire, leave the door closed and turn it off. Because fires need oxygen, leaving the door closed will eventually deplete the oxygen and cause it to burn out.
  • If a pan on the stove catches fire, put a lid on it to suffocate it and turn off the stove. If the flames and fire are too large, use your fire extinguisher or evacuate your home and call 911.
  • Don’t ever put water on a grease fire; it will cause the grease and flames to spread, making the fire bigger.
  • Throw large amounts of baking soda or salt on a grease fire, but never flour. Flour can explode and make a fire worse.
  • Don’t try to put out the fire by swinging or swatting a towel at it. This can spread the fire.
  • Don’t try to move a pot or pan while it’s on fire.

Once you have successfully put out a fire on the stove, wait for the pot to cool and the fire to go out before moving it. And as always, make sure the batteries in your smoke detector are fresh and test it at least twice a year. For other tips on putting out home kitchen fires, and on how to use extinguishers, visit the Winfield, IL, Fire Department webpage,, or check out this video from the Washington Emergency Management Department and Bremerton Fire Department:


Commercial Kitchens

Kitchen Fires

Greasy Commercial Kitchen

In a commercial kitchen, automatic suppression systems are used to put out fires. Be sure to check with your insureds that they’re doing the following:

  • Hoods and vents should be professionally cleaned at least twice yearly, sometimes more if the restaurant or business does a lot of heavy grease cooking and it gets dirty more frequently.
  • Have your suppression system serviced annually—they will check and replace
    Kitchen extinguishing system

    Clean Commercial Kitchen

    any fusible links and suppression tanks to be sure the system responds accordingly in the event of a fire.

  • Have at least 16 inches of space between open flames and fryer devices. A basket of french fries being dropped into a deep fat fryer can splatter oil, which can spray into flames and cause a large fire.
  • Be sure the kitchen has a type-K fire extinguisher, have it serviced yearly, and be sure it’s accessible!

Also, check out our other articles on things to look for in a commercial kitchen to help restaurant insureds stay safe and reduce their loss cost!

Kitchen Fire Safety

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 25, 2014 12:46 pm

    You can prevent many kitchen fires by cleaning and maintaining your appliances, stove tops, range hoods and more. Doing regular maintenance, assessments and proper use of appliances can go a long way in preventing fire opportunities.

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