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Restaurant fire safety

Fact

Restaurants, cafes and other eating establishments are workplaces that are at a high risk from fire.

This is due to the environment with the potential of combustibles in close proximity to hot surfaces and open flames.

The most common fires involve unattended cooking, overheating of cooking oil or fat, and the ignition of fatty residues within range hoods and ducting.

NSW Fire Brigades' fire response statistics (AIRS) 2000/2004 indicated that 207 restaurant fires occurred in NSW within this time period.

Tips for safer restaurants

The NSW Fire Brigades recommends this simple safety checklist to assist you in minimising the risk of fire and the interruption of your business and the endangerment of your patrons.

  • Train your staff regarding maintaining clear exits, workplace fire safety, evacuation procedures and how to call triple zero (000). Refer to Calling Triple Zero to Report Emergencies safety fact sheet.
  • Maintain routine cleaning and inspection of kitchen range hoods, ducting, and grease fans. Approximately 80% of food preparation establishments hire contractors to maintain grease filters etc.
  • Disposal of combustible waste products must be included in your maintenance program, ensuring rubbish and recyclables are secured in appropriate containers with close fitting lids.
  • Ensure all cookers/fryers etc. have thermostats fitted, are serviced and cleaned as recommended by manufacturers and don't store combustible liquids under or near cookers or fryers or blocking exits.
  • Ensure that all equipment is turned off when the business is unattended (this does not include gas pilot lights).
  • It is recommended that larger cooking and food preparation facilities are protected by automatic wet chemical systems for their deep fryers. Wet chemical fire extinguishers and fire blankets should also supplement this system, and also applies to smaller facilities.
  • Ensure that the appropriate fire extinguishers and fire blankets are installed in an easily accessible location and not near vats and hot plates. They must be in good working order and checked as per Australian Standards.
  • Make sure your business has an emergency evacuation procedure, which includes a suitable method of roll call for staff and patrons. Designate assembly areas that do not inhibit Fire Brigade operations.

Fire survival tips

  • For assistance with emergency procedures and staff training contact NSW Fire Brigades' ComSafe Training Services on 1800 SURVIVE (78 78 48) or other recognized commercial providers.
  • Develop a Business Continuity Plan to ensure that your business may recover following the impact of a workplace fire. Always ensure that your business has sufficient fire insurance coverage.

Printable factsheet

Restaurant fire safety (PDF, 42Kb)

NSW Fire Brigades Community Risk Management. Revised 13 October 2005.

In an Emergency Call Triple Zero (000)

A collaboration of the NSW Fire Brigades, NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Rural Fire Service