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Educate Your Staff So Your Business Doesn’t Go Up in Smoke!

by Randall L. Hormann, The Fire Code Academy Save your business from going up in smoke. Implement OFC (Ohio Fire Code) and OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) standards on fire safety in your restaurants to prevent crippling losses due to fire. Your restaurant/kitchen facility can be dangerous places because off the close proximity of flammable items to open flames and hot surfaces. Restaurant kitchens have made huge strides in healthfulness and efficiency over the last few years. High efficiency stoves, grills and ovens as well as healthier vegetable oils that only burn at higher temperatures all cook food faster and retain heat longer, a blessing for restaurants that want to turn its tables as many times as possible each night. Unfortunately, these great innovations in cooking technology have made restaurant kitchen fires more common and much more devastating. If you are a restaurant owner, you have to be more vigilant than ever if you want to prevent kitchen fires from getting out of control. As the main operators of restaurant equipment, commercial kitchen employees must follow proper operating and maintenance tasks in order to prevent fires. Here are some tips kitchen workers can follow to minimize the risk of fire: Understand the fire safety procedures for your workplace. Know where fire extinguishers are located, how to manually activate the fire suppression system and the emergency exit route for your work area. Regular Training. Make sure your staff understands what is expected of them when an incident occurred. Approved and documented training will satisfy regulatory requirements (state and federal) on work place and employee fire training. Do not store flammable items near open flames. Aprons, loose clothing and aerosol cans are all examples of flammable material that can easily catch fire or explode if placed near an open flame or heat source. Regularly clean grill surfaces. Grease and food particles can accumulate on a grill’s surface and easily ignite if not removed. Do not use defective equipment or frayed power cords. These are a source of both fire and electrocution. Avoid cooking areas unless assigned to work there. An over-crowded cook line increases the risk that a stray article of clothing will come in contact with an open flame. Never throw water on a grease fire. That will only make it worse. Instead use a Class-K fire extinguisher for large fires or baking soda for small skillet fires. Documented and approved training and education procedures are two of the best ways to ensure your staff will be prepared in the event of an emergency. Following is a snapshot of some of the regulatory requirements of the Ohio Fire Code and OSHA standards regarding restaurants and commercial kitchen operations. OHIO FIRE CODE - 404.2 – APPROVED FIRE SAFETY AND EVACUATION PLANS SHALL BE PREPARED ABD MAINTAINED FOR THE FOLLOWING OCCUPANCIES: GROUP A (WHICH INCLUDE RESTAURANTS) OHIO FIRE CODE - 405.2 – FIRE AND EVACUATION DRILLS SHALL TAKE PLACE FOR GROUP A OCCUPANCIES (WHICH INCLUDE RESTAURANTS) OSHA Requirements - Fire Extinguishers OSHA 1910.157(g)(1) — Annual Training is REQUIRED. Where the employer has provided any portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting . OSHA REQUIREMENTS - EMERGENCY ACTION PLANS OSHA 1910.38 AN EMPLOYER MUST HAVE AN EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN. THE PLAN MUST BE IN WRITING, KEPT IN THE WORKPLACE, AND AVAILABLE FOR EMPLOYEES TO REVIEW. THE PLAN MUST INCLUDE EMPLOYEE TRAINING, AND DEFINE & ENSURE THE EMPLOYEE UNDERSTANDS THEIR ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES. The Fire Code Academy is here to assist you in creating a safe work place. As a purveyor member of the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA), we are providing other members with access to significantly discounted training and consulting services. On Jan. 1, 2012, we made a business decision to open our training and consulting services to Ohio businesses and beyond. Since our foundation, we predominantly dedicated our services to Ohio’s fire services. The Fire Code Academy provides a high-caliber fire instructor who oversees all training programs to both fire and emergency services and to private industry and corporations. The company has invested its resources in obtaining a fire extinguisher simulator (OSHA and fire code approved). This means no more costly fire extinguisher training classes and expenses to fill discharged extinguishers – nothing like low-cost training and education to remain fiscally responsible. As the only Fire Code Academy in the country, we are proud to be an Ohio-based company. We welcome our involvement with the ORA and look forward to assisting members in creating a safe operating environment for both their crew and their guests. This article was provided to the Ohio Restaurant Association by Randall Hormann, the president and CEO of The Fire Code Academy.

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