Industrial Food Prep: Mastering Fire Suppression Techniques for Improved Safety

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Frying is a popular food preparation method with inherent dangers. These risks can quickly escalate in commercial facilities because the overall volume of fried consumables is larger than what people make at home. How should decision-makers at food processing plants and similar settings use industrial fire suppression systems and other methods to reduce catastrophic outcomes?

Understand How Industrial Fire Suppression Systems Work

Industrial fire suppression systems typically have two main components that activate in response to blazes. The first stage cuts the system’s fuel supply and the second applies chemicals to stop kitchen fires. These solutions usually connect to cooking stations via the hoods above them or the gas lines supplying this equipment.

Once the system activates, it stops the gas and electrical fuel sources that would allow the fire to flourish. Then, nozzles above the cooking area discharge chemicals to put out the flames or stop them from becoming uncontrollable. Some types also have supporting features, such as water mist systems.

Most such technologies activate automatically after sensing heat above a certain threshold. Even so, they’ll usually have manual methods, such as cords people can pull after noticing a sudden fire. That option helps workers respond promptly to further reduce the chances of flames spreading beyond a cooking surface.

After installing industrial fire suppression systems, people must not develop a false sense of security. These solutions only perform reliably with proper maintenance. A good starting point is to read the manufacturer’s guidance thoroughly. Next, people should consider how the conditions in their food processing plants may require especially frequent maintenance.

Although a cooking hood may contain parts of a fire safety system, it can also pose a danger. That happens if cleaning frequencies are insufficient, resulting in grease buildup. Food processing plants operating on 24-hour schedules or handling large amounts of fried items should clean hoods at least monthly. Logs or another tracking method is a simple but effective way to track when this maintenance occurred and who did it.

Prioritize Worker Training

Employees play a critical role in preventing fires at industrial processing facilities. Executives should ensure all workers know how to find the nearest fire extinguishers and use them correctly. Similarly, they should also learn signs that a blaze is getting out of control and it’s time to call for help.

Training should occur regularly to increase the chances that people will react correctly and quickly during emergencies. Many individuals freeze under pressure or become fearful of doing the wrong thing. However, ongoing employee education reduces those responses because it ingrains the proper procedures in each worker’s mind and helps them feel confident during urgent situations.

The learning content should also extend to working with industrial fryers. Because of the cooking method’s efficiency, items could become fire hazards or get burned if people leave deep fryers unattended.

Additionally, cooking oil is a highly flammable liquid and fires could quickly start if it splashes onto surfaces. This effect can occur if people overload the frying basket due to haste or inadequate training. Specific reactions can also elevate the danger. For example, when water mixes with extremely hot oil, it instantly vaporizes, becoming steam that can rapidly expand and cause oil splattering or employee burns.

This reality reinforces how employee training may result in workers learning counterintuitive details. If someone sees a fire break out, their first instinct is probably to grab a container of water to throw over it. However, that’s never the right approach for a grease fire because the liquid can intensify the flames and spread them to other parts of the facility. Instead, people should put a metal lid over fires or use extinguishers for kitchens.

Pay Attention to Fryers’ Locations and the Room Construction

Whether executives are getting new fryers installed or checking the safety of their existing ones, they should follow best practices regarding a fryer’s location and the fire precautions in the surrounding environment.

For example, they should put fryers in rooms with non-combustible construction and strongly consider using passive fire prevention measures in adjacent areas. When people install ducted systems, they should include inspection hatches that allow individuals to check for combustible deposits and clean them regularly.

It’s also best for ducts to only pass through non-combustible walls. When that’s impossible, installers should apply non-combustible insulation and position the ducts with adequate clearance. Those measures should prevent high-heat buildup.

Having an external consultant provide additional tips specific to the facility and the foods produced could be money well spent, especially in new facilities or those undergoing significant upgrades. The fresh perspectives from an outside expert could reveal things a company’s executives hadn’t considered. They could also prepare the food processing business for future anticipated needs.

Embrace Emerging Innovations

Leaders should also stay aware of high-tech options that could change how their companies fry foods. Those possibilities could simultaneously reduce instances where industrial fire suppression systems must activate to prevent destruction.

One example is a fat-blocking technology made from plant-based proteins. People can incorporate it into their frying processes by spraying or dipping food into it or mixing the product into batter. This approach causes up to an 18% reduction in oil and shortens the time required for cleaning-in-place measures.

It could also align with business efforts to make fried products healthier while maintaining their tempting tastes. Researchers know frequent consumption of some foods raises people’s health risks. However, they’re also learning more about how individual dietary changes may help individuals live longer, healthier lives.

Any innovative solutions considered should cover multiple fire management aspects. For example, water mist systems stop blazes in progress, but food processing plants should also prevent them. One increasingly popular possibility is to use zone-based electric fire detection systems. Some options allow monitoring multiple cooking appliances under single hoods and provide real-time updates. Then, managers can review each zone’s status and rest assured that things are running smoothly throughout the facility.

Other solutions offer touch-sensitive, wall-mounted panels with centralized locations for monitoring or changing settings. A good fire prevention tip is to have at least one person per shift who understands how to work those control panels.

Industrial Fire Suppression Systems Are Good Investments

Food processing plant leaders should consider specialized fire suppression systems as essential to their prevention measures. Then, they can be well-prepared to reduce the chances of costly, dangerous and business-altering events.

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